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2010 - Volume 1 Issue 2
Vida Fronteriza
Health & Wellness
Article: Joe Burgess
courtesy of
Las Palmas Medical Center

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Weight loss surgery may sound extreme, and indeed, it is the medical treatment of an extreme health condition. It is surgery focused primarily on regaining a person’s health, energy and ability to function as the person that individual seeks to become. Dr. Michael Lara of Las Palmas & Del Sol Weight Loss Clinics relates that most of his patients are mothers who are tired of being tired and want to be more active in their children’s lives. They often see their children starting to follow in their own footsteps that can only lead to the same results with obesity. “Dr. Jorge Acosta and I are committed to helping these people regain their health and a much improved quality of life, ” states Dr. Lara.

    Photo Captions

1.) Dr. Michael Lara and Dr. Jorge Acosta

2.) Bariatric Staff (from left): Rebecca Ramirez, Priscilla Baldorama (seated), Dr. Michael Lara, Rebecca Terhune, Darlene Cdebaca (seated), Laurie Suarez

Las Palmas
LifeCare Center


Bariatric Center of
Excellence at Del Sol
Medical Center


The surgery has been a benefit, even a godsend for many people. But it does not come with a magic wand – discipline is still a factor in what could become one of the most important lifestyle changes an obese individual ever encounters. A major advantage of the surgical option is that it comes with a group of personal experts whose sole purpose is to help weight loss surgery patients succeed in achieving their goals. An equally important factor is that as participants lose weight and begin feeling better about themselves, having to apply a little discipline no longer seems like such a big ordeal – they like who they are becoming.

Who should consider bariatric surgery? Las Palmas and Del Sol surgeons have performed over a thousand weight loss surgeries on patients ranging between the ages of 18 and the mid-70s. There are definite criteria, however, that must be met when considering the surgery option. If the body mass index (BMI – a weight to height calculation) is over 40, the individual qualifies for weight loss surgery. If the body mass index is in the range of 35-40 and there are obesity-associated medical conditions such as hypertension, type II diabetes or obstructive sleep apnea, the individual is qualified.

If an obese individual has experienced failures at previous weight loss attempts, including exercise, changes in eating behavior and drug therapy, that person should definitely check with the clinic. It is the people who seek out the options and make informed decisions about weight loss and weight loss surgery who are the most successful at achieving their goals.

As any overweight individual can attest, losing weight requires commitment to a major lifestyle change. Weight loss surgery gives the individual a very effective advantage, but the commitment to exercise and healthy eating should continue. Following surgery, the multidisciplinary team of experts steps in to help bariatric patients with that critical transition. A bariatric nurse, registered dietitian, exercise physiologist, and psychologist, as well as the bariatric surgeon himself, are among those who make sure the patient is getting the proper nutrition and is physically and mentally handling the rapid weight change. There are support groups that combine those who have undergone surgery and those who are contemplating it, and there are related activities, even fashion shows, to highlight the success stories.

At Las Palmas and Del Sol, there are three surgical options. A restrictive band, called a lap band, is an implant that is placed around the top of the stomach and attached to a catheter just under the skin. The band can be tightened by adding a saline solution through the catheter until the optimal constriction is achieved. This procedure generally eliminates 50-60 percent of the excess body weight in a 24-month period. It is a good choice for the more active person, but due to the longer period of time involved, requires more discipline on the part of the individual.

The vertical sleeve gastrectomy removes 80 percent of the stomach and usually eliminates 60-70 percent of the excess body weight in a 12-month period. The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass not only eliminates 80 percent of the stomach, but also the first section of the small intestine (duodenum). This procedure typically removes 80 percent of excess body weight in 12 months.

Patients also have the option of either traditional open surgery or minimally invasive surgery. Drs. Michael Lara and Jorge Acosta participated in yearlong training fellowships for the use of minimally invasive tools. “With the necessary experience and continually improving tools, we feel it is in the interest of the patient to take advantage of minimally invasive procedures that greatly reduce complications and recovery time.”

Two weeks after surgery, most people are cleared for exercise programs at Las Palmas LifeCare Center under the guidance of physiologists. A bariatric manual recommends exercise programs and includes recipes that are high in protein and water.

Weight loss, depending on the procedure, is between a pound per day and a pound per week and after three months, glucose levels start to normalize, individuals begin to sleep better, they have more energy, they are more active and less lethargic. Usually after three months, people affected by sleep apnea are able to come off their machines.

“Once I actually began performing weight loss surgeries, I realized how much difference I could make in people’s lives,” Dr. Lara continued. “That had an effect on my own life and my commitment to the work. Dr. Acosta and I and the staff of the Las Palmas and Del Sol bariatric teams have experienced some amazing transformations.” ///
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