Should It Be Called Weight Loss Surgery?

June 22, 2012

Virtually since the first gastric bypass was performed over 40 years ago, people have also referred to bariatric procedures as “weight loss surgery.” While weight loss is certainly the most obvious benefit of bariatric surgery, it is neither the most important, nor the primary benefit that we strive to achieve. In fact, the true benefit of bariatric surgery is to eliminate the diseases associated with obesity, with the aesthetic component of weight loss being a secondary side effect. Oftentimes, depending on the state and the insurance company, there can be some confusion when it comes to classifying “weight loss surgery” as a medical necessity. The name, in and of itself, connotes an aesthetic procedure, which, of course, brings a level of skepticism with it.

Of late, there has been a growing movement to re-brand weight loss surgery and call it “metabolic surgery.” While the procedures would not necessarily change, the goals and perception of the procedures certainly would. Describing these procedures as metabolic surgery allows for a more accurate description of their true benefits – the elimination of diseases such as type II diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. All of those diseases can contribute to very serious long-term problems in the cardiovascular system and elsewhere in the body.

Whether or not rebranding bariatric surgery as metabolic surgery increases its awareness or popularity remains to be seen; however, doing so will allow for a more accurate description of the true benefits of the procedures. It may also make it clearer to third-party payers, such as insurance companies, that these procedures are valuable for more than simply weight loss and aesthetics alone.

Stay tuned for more news on metabolic surgery and how the terminology may change in the near future.

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Advanced Surgical Associates is one of the first exclusively surgical groups practicing in Union County New Jersey. And that is just the first of many firsts for ASA. For over 40 years, we have pioneered breakthrough surgical patient care in North Jersey in both general and weight loss surgery. ASA also offers gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding to those suffering from obesity in New Jersey.
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