Thursday, January 12, 2012

How fatty are your organs? My experience watching bariatric surgery

Today I had the opportunity to watch a gastric bypass and sleeve operation. It was so fascinating to be in the OR and see everything being done laparoscopically. I wasn't grossed out in any way to see blood or bodily organs. In fact it was quite remarkable to see a real life heart beating. The disgusting part was actually seeing the loads and loads of fat surrounding all of the organs. There are two types of fat: visceral and subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is located within the abdominal cavity, surrounding organs. Subcutaneous fat is found just below the skin. Visceral fat is related to increased risks for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases brought on by central obesity.

All of the excess fat made it harder to actually find the organs in order to perform the surgery. About half of the surgery is just spent separating the stomach from the visceral fat present. Once the surgeon stapled the stomach, he pulled it out through a tiny incision above the belly button. This person's stomach had stretched over years and years of excessive eating. What is even more remarkable is after having gastric bypass, patients are usually able to get off all of their medication including hypertension and diabetic medication.

Seeing all of that fat "hugging" onto the vital organs really put healthy eating and exercise into perspective for me. I thought to myself, "If only everyone could watch a bariatric surgery; then they would be motivated to stay at a healthy weight." Now every time I'm tempted with eating another cookie or sitting out on my workout I'm going to think of that fat sticking to my organs...

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