Doctors placed an elastic band around Pedersen's stomach just below the
esophagus to restrict how much food he could eat. Pedersen, who weighed close
to 300 pounds, began to lose weight almost immediately after the surgery.
If you're considering weight loss surgery, prepare to make changes that last
"When you're seriously overweight, it affects your social life, your
health," says Atul Madan, MD, chief of bariatric surgery at the University of
Miami School of Medicine. "This surgery helps people get past their cravings.
They're much healthier, their social interactions get better. It affects them
in so many ways."
But bariatric surgery is only one tool to help achieve weight loss. You’ll
"I was overjoyed," says Pedersen, 52, a lawyer in the San Francisco Bay
area. "I felt better. I looked better." What's more, very small portions of
food left him feeling full.
Then came trouble. Pedersen felt sharp abdominal pains and was rushed into
surgery. The band around his stomach had slipped, threatening to cut off
circulation. Had he waited much longer, he could have died. The band was safely
removed, but Pedersen began to regain weight quickly.
"I was devastated," he remembers. "It wasn't just a matter of wanting not to
be fat, though that certainly mattered to me. There are serious health problems
associated with being obese, which I was. And I already had many of them. I was
being treated for diabetes. My hips and my knees were deteriorating. My blood
pressure was too high. Being obese was almost certainly going to cut my life
short. And when you have two young kids, that's a hard thing to think
So, less than a year later Pedersen was back in the hospital, undergoing
another weight loss operation. This time, surgeons bypassed a large section of
his stomach and eliminated a stretch of his intestines, an operation called
gastric bypass. Three months after the second operation, Pedersen has lost more
than 45 pounds, enough that people stop him on the street to say how great he
Weight loss surgery: Drastic solutions to a drastic problem
Pedersen is hardly alone in resorting to drastic weight loss surgery to shed
pounds. More and more severely overweight and obese people are turning to
bariatric surgery, as these weight loss procedures are called. According to a
2005 report published in the Journal of the American Medical
Association, the number of bariatric operations increased sevenfold in just
five years-from 13,365 operations in 1998 to 102,177 in 2003. Survey results
also show a steep climb in the number of men opting for weight loss