(FOX 2) - Weight loss surgery is not an easy way to lose weight, but for some people it might be the only way.
We've seen it work with a former member of our FOX 2 family, Jackie Page. So why aren't more people having it? Some doctors are trying to make sure more people know it's a very real option.
Jackie Page is down 115 lbs. after having the surgery in March 2017, and says it's not an easy way to lose weight, but for some she knows it's the only way
"It has to be a plan that you're sticking to for the rest of your life and you have to stick to it for the rest of your life," said Page
For over 20 years, Shaun Rogers struggled to manage his weight as his diabetes symptoms worsened.
"By just dieting and continuing the cycle with the insulin, I was never going to lose the amount of weight I needed to lose to use to change the whole cycle and get the diabetes under really good control," he said.
With a body mass index of just 35, Shaun didn't think he was a candidate for bariatric surgery.
"BMI is not really a fair or accurate representation of who should be getting therapy," says Dr. Stacy Brethauer from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She says the criteria for bariatric surgery are outdated and arbitrary. While someone with a BMI of 35 is approved, the next person with uncontrolled diabetes and a BMI of 34 may be denied.
"The patient who doesn't get the operation, we know very well that their disease will progress, their lifespan will be shortened if they don't get effective treatment," said Brethauer.
That disease progression can include diabetes, heart disease and cancer. And just like any other chronic disease, the best method for prevention is to intervene early.
"Continuing to increase their insulin requirements and provide the medical therapy is not going to change the trajectory of the disease. It just doesn't. Surgery does," said Brethauer.
Unfortunately, many still believe that obesity is only a problem of willpower, and that patients can take it upon themselves to fix it.
"No one asks somebody with cancer or heart disease to just do it themselves. They have to participate in their care and do the right things, but there's also effective therapy being offered to those patients at the same time," said Brethauer.
Since his surgery, Shaun has lost a 120 lbs., is off all oral medications and has really reduced his insulin intake.
"It's changed my life so much. I would, you know have anyone do it," he said.
It has to be a plan you stick with and you have to stick with it the rest of your life.
Experts say allowing more people who are obese to undergo Bariatric surgery also saves healthcare resources and dollars, as patients have fewer health concerns in the future.
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery has updated the guidelines for surgery based on a patient's whole health rather than just BMI. They say it is now up to referring physicians and insurance companies to adopt these new criteria and allow more patients to benefit.