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The Doctor Recommends

Bariatric surgery addresses obesity and is also a
promising treatment for diabetes

Obesity is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States, but fewer than 5 percent of people with severe obesity are able to shed their excess weight with diet and exercise. Metabolic and bariatric surgery—which can improve sugar metabolism and cause dramatic weight loss—offers hope.

Overlake Medical Center offers leading-edge surgery within a comprehensive program that gives patients the tools and support they need. As a result, Overlake patients experience fewer problems—such as infections, readmissions and lengthy hospital stays—than the national rates.

Thien Nguyen, MD

Thien Nguyen, MD

Meredith Lepore, ARNP

Meredith Lepore, ARNP

How can surgery help patients with obesity and metabolic disorders? 

THIEN NGUYEN, MD, MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF BARIATRIC SURGERY: Some patients who have bariatric surgery are able to lose up to 50 percent of their body weight, which has a positive effect on metabolic disorders.

Gastric bypass—which makes the stomach smaller, thereby restricting the amount of food one can eat—offers immediate improvements in terms of diabetes and sugar control. That’s why gastric bypass is being studied as a treatment for diabetes, which is a dramatic change in how we have viewed weight loss surgery in the past.

We’ve had patients whose diabetes has gone into complete remission, so they’re actually not considered diabetic anymore. We see patients whose heart and kidney function improves. We’ve had patients whose obesity was making them less fertile become pregnant after surgery. This treatment can have such a long-lasting, broad and meaningful effect on a patient’s health.

What support do patients get?

MEREDITH LEPORE, ARNP, NURSE PRACTITIONER: Patients see Dr. Nguyen or me for an initial visit. We provide a mental health evaluation and counseling as needed. They also see a nutritionist, who talks to them about using a small plate and small utensils, eating slowly, and really chewing their food. We help people make small changes before surgery so after surgery, it’s not a shock when suddenly their diet changes. After surgery, nurses help gently ease them into eating and get them up and walking around. We also have a support group that’s run by our dietitian, Carrie Tollefson, and Carmela Pontillo, RN, who oversees the program, and a psychologist, Randy Brandeis, MSW, CSW, who facilitates the group. I love my job because people are so excited about being off their diabetes medication and running up and down the stairs. They’re eating healthier and identifying triggers that caused them to gain the weight, and they’re making exercise a part of their life.

Want to Learn More?

To watch a video of Dr. Nguyen’s seminar on metabolic and bariatric surgery, or to attend one in person, visit

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