Health Watch

Gastric bypass benefits

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The last option for weight loss could be the start of huge savings in health care. A recent study, led by a Fresno surgeon shows gastric bypass surgery not only led to a big drop in weight for patients, but big drop in health care costs.

Paul Ferguson of Fresno can now fit into one of the legs of an old pair of pants. He looks a lot younger than his 40 years of age, and he feels that way too, after dropping over 200 pounds with gastric bypass surgery, just 10 months ago.

At his heaviest, the former college football player, weighed 430 pounds, wore a size 6x shirt and had a 56-inch waist.

"I just gave up," Ferguson said. "I thought I'd die at 55, 50 of a heart attack."

Before the life-saving surgery, Paul used to eat a double hamburger for lunch and another hamburger as a side dish.

But now, he eats apples and a little peanut butter. Paul says his breaking point finally came when his doctor told him, he would have to take insulin.

"When they told me I had to give myself a shot every day -- I was like -- I had heard bad stories."

But Paul says just after his surgery, while he was still at the hospital, his health drastically changed. He no longer needed any medication for his diabetes or high blood pressure -- pills that cost him nearly a thousand dollars a month -- out of pocket.

Paul is an example of what Bariatric Surgeon, Dr. Saber Ghiassi at Fresno Heart and Surgical Hospital just studied. His findings showed gastric bypass surgery resulted in a significant reduction in the cost of medications to treat hypertension and diabetes in patients.

Dr. Ghiassi said, "We could tell with certainty that one year after surgery there was a 65% reduction in the cost of medication for treating high blood pressure and an 88% reduction in the cost of medication to treat diabetes."

But for Paul, no cost savings is greater than his second chance at an active life. He exercises now, and enjoys family vacations.

"Oh my whole life has changed."

And for Paul, that's the best side effect from surgery.

The study from Fresno Heart and Surgical Hospital was completed with the help of Stanford University.

Doctors say the study supports the savings in costs for the overall, US health care system.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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