HOUSTON (April 04, 2014)

Anyone thinking about having bariatric surgery should know what it involves, so Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital offers free seminars.

Being overweight and obesity may increase the risk of many health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Every day, more than a thousand Americans die from morbid obesity and obesity related medical problems. Bariatric surgery has been found to be effective in promoting weight loss and reducing the risk for many health problems.

Bariatric surgery is an option for people who cannot lose weight by other means or who suffer from serious health problems related to obesity. The surgery restricts food intake, which promotes weight loss and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Some surgeries also interrupt how food is digested, preventing some calories and nutrients, such as vitamins, from being absorbed. Recent studies suggest that bariatric surgery may even lower death rates for patients with severe obesity. The best results occur when patients follow surgery with healthy eating patterns and regular exercise.

Having surgery to produce weight loss is a serious decision. Anyone thinking about having this surgery should know what it involves, so Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital offers free seminars about weight loss surgery using minimally invasive, laparoscopic surgery techniques such as Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve, and Adjustable Gastric Banding on select Tuesday evenings each month, 6-7 p.m. The next seminar is scheduled for April 8; followed by April 22, May 6 and 20, June 10 and 24, and July 8 and 22.

These free, one-hour seminars are led by Memorial Hermann Bariatric Surgical Expert Kulvinder S. Bajwa, M.D. or one of his surgical colleagues. Recognized with distinguished teaching awards at both Brooke Army Medical Center and UTHealth, Bajwa, the medical director of the Weight Loss Surgery Program at Memorial Hermann Southwest, is board-certified in general surgery and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Each seminar wraps up with an audience-driven question and answer session.

In 2004, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reduced barriers to obtaining Medicare coverage for obesity treatments. Bariatric surgery may be covered if the patient has at least one health problem linked to obesity, the procedure is suitable for the patient's medical condition, and approved surgeons and facilities are involved.

The weight loss surgery seminars, held in the Pavilion Classroom, 1st floor near the Breast Center at Memorial Hermann Southwest, 7600 Beechnut Street, are open to anyone 18 years of age or older, who are morbidly obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more. In addition, individuals with a BMI between 35 and 39.9 with obesity-related medical problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, infertility, stress incontinence, depression, or orthopedic problems due to weight are invited to attend.

Memorial Hermann Southwest offers a weight loss program comprised of a team of experienced, board-certified surgeons, spe­cially trained nurses, patient care associates, physical therapists, and behavioral health specialists whose goal is to empower change All bariatric surgeries are performed onsite; a convenient location next to Highway 59, away from traffic and parking hassles downtown.