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Diet and exercise are just not enough to get some severely overweight people down to a healthy size.

For them, bariatric surgery can be a safe alternative.

“Bariatric surgery is, essentially, the surgical treatment of morbid obesity and obesity-related diseases,” said Dr. Fritz Jean-Pierre, a bariatric surgeon for the WellStar Medical Group in Marietta, Georgia.

Jean-Pierre says there are several options for bariatric surgery, including laparoscopic gastric bypass, lap gastric banding and laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.

To be considered for surgery, candidates must have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or greater, with related health issues, such as diabetes or hypertension, or have a BMI above 40, which usually means they are about 100 pounds overweight.

This is important news for African Americans, who tend to have higher incidences of diabetes and other illnesses linked to obesity. Last year, Dr. Mehmet Oz told the Tom Joyner Morning Show/ audience that type 2 diabetes could be cured or reduced in the body through gastric bypass surgery.

Oz said that the surgery could help people lose weight, prevent heart disease and cancer, reverse type 2 diabetes virtually overnight, but that only 1 percent of patients eligible for the surgery elected to undergo the procedure.

Bypass and gastric banding, Oz said, also could cure or control sleep apnea, asthma, reflux, infertility, low back pain and osteoarthritis.

Gastric bypass surgery changes how your stomach and small intestine process the food you eat by making your stomach smaller, making you feel fuller with less food.

With banding, a surgeon places a band around the upper part of your stomach and creates a small pouch that limits how much food you can eat and makes you feel fuller sooner after eating small amounts.

The band can later be adjusted by your doctor so that food can pass slowly or faster through the digestive system.

The surgery is minimally invasive and patients generally are hospitalized one or two days, depending on the type of operation they undergo, Jean-Pierre said in a YouTube video that summarized the process.

“On average, most patients stay out of work about a week or two weeks. It’s really sort of just to get accustomed to the new lifestyles changes, as far as learning how to eat or drink all over again,” Jean-Pierre said.

“I think it’s quite courageous for patients to come in and want to do something about their morbid obesity.”

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