Dec. 18, 2000 -- Two years ago, Rhonda Bailey was fat and
miserable. The 38-year-old bore 245 pounds on her 5-foot-1 frame. Squeezing
into a restaurant booth, airplane seat, or amusement park ride was
unimaginable. Walking made her joints stiff and sore. She leaned heavily on a
cane to get from the handicapped parking space to her desk at work.
Today, Bailey is literally half the woman she used to be. Over
the past 18 months, she has shed 50% of her body weight. Her waist shrunk from
a size 26 to a size six. Now, at 125 pounds, the Southern California resident
jogs daily, bicycles with her stepdaughter, and rejoices in her ability to do
life's little things -- like tying her shoes -- without asking her husband for
It is possible that the main title of the report Graves' Disease is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.
Bailey's secret isn't the latest fad diet or radical weight
loss drug. She owes her slimmed-down body to gastric-bypass surgery. The
procedure is just one of several weight loss operations that fall under the
heading of bariatric surgery.
As obesity rates creep skyward, so do the number of Americans
turning to surgery as a weight loss tool. Although today's bariatric surgery is
safer and more effective than earlier versions, the procedure is not an instant
cure. Reserved only for the severely obese (those who tip the scales at 100
pounds or more over their normal body weight), bariatric surgery is a drastic
step with a high rate of complications. Patients must make radical, lifelong
dietary changes, and permanent weight loss is not guaranteed. Still, a growing
number of doctors are recommending bariatric surgery for severely obese
patients who find themselves at wits' end about weight loss.
The increasing demand for bariatric surgery reflects the
country's obesity epidemic. In the United States, 55% of adults are overweight.
Four million Americans are severely obese. Of that group, 80% are women of
The average bariatric surgery patient is a woman in her late
30s who weighs approximately 300 pounds, says Robert Brolin, MD, president of
the American Society for Bariatric Surgery. Brolin estimates the number of
bariatric surgeries performed this year will reach 40,000 -- double that of
five years ago. He attributes the procedure's popularity to the rise in obesity
rates and the willingness of insurance companies to cover the operation's
$25,000 and up price tag.