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Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery: Q & A with Dr. Dmytro Havaleshko

Havaleshko-cropped.jpgIf you are ready to lose weight, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital’s new Center for Weight Management & Bariatric Surgery has all the expertise, tools and support you need to be successful. Dr. Dmytro Havaleshko's extensive experience performing bariatric surgeries, including gastric bypass and vertical sleeve gastrectomy, has helped patients across the Seacoast discover their best life. Here, Dr. Havaleshko answers some questions about the benefits of weight loss surgery.

Q. Who do you recommend weight loss surgery for and why is it a good option?

DH: There is a lot of data showing that obesity is a complex disease, and it’s a progressive disease. Data from the World Health Organization shows it’s increasing worldwide. In the United States, obesity rates are around 36-39%. In New Hampshire, the rate of obesity is around 26%.

We consider bariatric surgery for people with morbid obesity, meaning a body mass index (BMI) over 35. Patients are appropriate for weight loss surgery if they have a BMI over 40 with no comorbid conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and others, or with a BMI over 35 with one of the above-mentioned comorbidities.

Q. How much weight do patients typically lose after surgery?

DH: Depending on the surgery, a patient can expect to lose between 50-60% of their excess body weight. Meaning, if they’re 100 pounds overweight, then they will lose 50-60 pounds and that would be considered a good result. For gastric bypass, the percentage goes up to between 60-70%. For sleeve gastrectomy, there is a recent study from Israel of 212 patients that shows their weight loss at three years was almost 75% of excess body weight. However, after surgery all predictors of success are behavioral. Therefore, in our program, we pay particular attention to the behavioral modifications and learning what to do after the surgery.
Of course, weight loss is a good thing, but the resolution of co-morbid conditions is what people are actually looking for. Resolution of high blood pressure is around 60-70%, sleep apnea resolution is around 80-90%, and resolution of type 2 diabetes is around 70%.

Q. What services and support does Wentworth-Douglass offer to help patients prepare for surgery and be successful?

DH: The Center for Weight Management & Bariatric Surgery is going to be really different than any other center in New Hampshire. Our program will have medical and surgical weight loss options. Depending on the patient's preference and presence of comorbid conditions, we will help him or her make the best and most educated decision on which weight loss route to take. The bariatric surgery program will include pre-surgical optimization, which is very important for successful and sustainable weight loss. Patients work with our psychologist, dieticians, and physical therapy specialists. Our bariatric psychologist, who has approximately 15 years of bariatrics experience, will focus on behavioral modifications, stress management in the future, and how to make appropriate choices in life. And of course, there will be pre-operative optimization based on the patient’s comorbid conditions. If they have sleep apnea, they will see a pulmonologist or sleep specialist; or diabetes educators to help manage diabetes. Bariatric surgery is quite safe because we operate on our patients after several months of surgical optimization.

Q. Besides weight loss, what other benefits might patients experience after surgery?

DH: The resolution of co-morbid conditions, diabetes, hypertension, among others, that’s the main health benefit. When I see the patients in my office after the surgery, the only thing patients say they regret is they did not go through our program and surgery sooner. They feel like they have been given their lives back.

The Center for Weight Management & Bariatric Surgery information sessions are held the third Thursday of the month at 6:30pm at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. To join us for a session or request more information, please call toll free 833-WD-NEW-ME or visit

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