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Doc Talk | The power of bariatric surgery

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A few months ago, after undergoing bariatric surgery, John Richards lost 90 pounds and noticed a big improvement.

"No longer do I have my knee pain or my back pain," said Richards. "Feeling pretty healthy being able to fit into the clothes the way I am suppose to."

Dr. Richard Griffiths heads the bariatric department at Geisinger Holy Spirit.: "It doesn't eliminate the struggle, but it takes that struggle and brings it down to a very manageable problem."

Griffiths says the surgery changes the way food is processed through the body.

"There is a limit of how much food can be taken in because the stomach is physically made smaller, so it gets full quicker and people eat less," explained Griffiths.

After the surgery, doctors expect a patient to not only eat less, but to also eat better and lead a healthier life, which is exactly what Richards has done.

"Exercising, going to the gym more it is a whole thing that you have to take care of, mental health and all that other stuff," said Richards.

Unfortunately, this surgery isn't for everyone.

"There are some people for whom surgery is not an interest for them at all or perhaps surgery is not necessary they kind of need some help, they need some dietary counseling," explained Griffiths.

According to the latest medical data, 33 percent of people in Pennsylvania are obese, putting them at risk for a number of diseases. Those who are a candidate for this surgery can see a remarkable turn around like John. But Dr. Griffiths notes this growing problem goes beyond food.

"The surgery is a portion of it for sure but as much or if not more of it is making a lifestyle change for people," explained Griffiths.

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