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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT

Surgeons Stress Behavior Control in Weight Loss

Dr. Bruce Molinelli and Dr. Athanassios Petrotos sit down with their prospective bariatric patients once a month at Greenwich Hospital to discuss the procedures, hopes and fears behind weight loss surgeries. The main message they want to get across is that surgery isn’t the easy route.

“This is a tool to change your behavior. It’s not like you get this put in, sit back and magically lose weight. This is hard work,” Molinelli says.

The key, according to the doctors, lies in behavior modification. Returning to poor eating habits and overindulgences will sabotage any of three primary surgical options. Early on, the side effects of surgery make it seem easy to avoid the junk food and consuming too much.

Molinelli tells prospective patients that they must understand the triggers that cause them to eat. If they don’t address the causes of their initial weight gain, the appetite will eventually return. Little slips can become big ones and, if persistent enough, the weight will return.

Molinelli and Petrotos find rewards in doing bariatric surgery. When a woman tells them, in tears, that she can shop from the regular size rack at the stores, it makes them feel good. Petrotos said he is especially happy to see the effects on some of the younger patients.

“It’s very rewarding when the younger population comes back and tells you they are doing things they’ve never been able to do before, like going to amusement parks,” Petrotos says. “When you do something so dramatic, you are really changing someone’s life.”

Although the doctors suggest anyone cresting a body mass index of 30 consider talking to a specialist about options, including surgery, they say surgery has the potential for complications. But according to Molinelli, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

At Greenwich Hospital, the two doctors have worked to pioneer minimally invasive techniques that reduce the size of incisions for bypass, the lap band and the stomach sleeve. The Bariatric Program at Greenwich Hospital has just received accreditation as a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by the American College of Surgeons. More information about Molinelli and Petrotos is available at their website .

On June 9, they will join the hospital’s bariatric team for the yearly presentation on weight loss and options at the Greenwich Library. Topics such as nutrition, exercise and surgical options will be covered. The lecture runs from 5 to 8 p.m. and is free.

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