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Published on May 29, 2013

Governor Christie’s Gastric Band Surgery Raises Awareness of Bariatric Surgery

Notoriously hefty New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has taken a dramatic step to lose weight – bariatric gastric band surgery. Indications are that, less than three months after having the operation, the Governor has already lost a significant amount of weight.

The news is sure to raise the profile of gastric band surgery, an operation that is typically performed on people who are severely overweight and who haven’t been able to lose weight by dieting or exercising.

“The criteria for lap band surgery are pretty strict,” said Dr. Leon Katz, a bariatric surgeon with Crozer-Keystone Health System. “The main indicator is if a person’s body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher, and has poorly controlled diabetes.” Additional weight-related conditions doctors look for include high blood pressure, arthritis, and sleep apnea. Those with BMI over 40 can qualify for the surgery based on their BMI alone.

Gastric band surgery involves placing a silicone tube around the top of the stomach, where it restricts the amount of food the patient can eat at one time, making him feel fuller, faster.  As the patient loses weight, saline solution is pumped into the band by doctors, tightening the band and further restricting how much the patient can eat.

“Most programs advance the patient’s diet over a four week period, commencing with liquids and slowly progressing to solid foods,” said Dr. Katz. “Many patients are able to get back to work within one to two weeks.”

Patients can expect to lose 35 to 40 percent of their excess body weight, the majority of it in the first three to five years after surgery. Most patients keep off at least 50 percent of the weight ten years after surgery.

The 50 year old governor is considered a presidential candidate for 2016, and many pundits have wondered whether an overweight candidate can win. Christie told reporters that he had the surgery for the sake of his family, not his political career. People have estimated that the Governor used to weigh as much as 350 pounds. The New York Post reported he’s lost 40 pounds since having the surgery 2 ½ months ago.

The Comprehensive Bariatric Surgery Program at Crozer-Chester Medical Center offers gastric band surgery, as well as gastric bypass and gastric sleeve surgeries. For more information about the program, visit http://bariatricsugery.crozerkeystone.org or call (610) 619-8450.

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