Health News Articles

Medicare Now Covers Weight Loss Option for Seniors When Diet and Exercise Aren't Enough

Jul 15, 2013

Medicare Now Covers Weight Loss Option for Seniors
When Diet and Exercise Aren't Enough

Losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can result in increased energy, better sleep, reduced risk for depression and cardiac disease, and overall increased quality of life. But as we age it can become harder to lose weight and keep it off, especially if other health problems make it difficult to engage in regular physical activity. For overweight seniors with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, or a BMI of 35 or more with medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea, who have been unsuccessful with traditional weight loss methods, surgery may be an option.

“Obesity is a condition of our modern society and can cause significant health issues for people of all ages,” says Wai-Yip Chau, MD, a board certified surgeon who is fellowship trained in bariatric surgery. “Our lifestyles are generally sedentary and become more so as we age. When dieting and exercise fail, bariatric surgery may be the answer.”

The Center for Bariatric Surgery at University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP) has been named a Center of Excellence by the American Society for Bariatric Surgery. One procedure performed at the Center, laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, can be a good option for older patients.

“The procedure involves reducing the stomach to about 20 percent of its original size through surgical removal and then forming a new sleeve of stomach or tubular stomach. It’s done laparoscopically, so surgical recovery time is reduced,” says
Dr. Chau. “Overall the long-term effectiveness is better than most other bariatric procedures. The main side effect is heartburn, which can be treated with medication and decreases as the patient loses weight.”

The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy is now covered by Medicare. For seniors facing serious health problems as a result of obesity, this is good news.

The UMCPP Center for Bariatric Surgery uses a multidisciplinary approach to each patient’s treatment from board certified surgeons and anesthesiologists, to nursing professionals, registered dietitians and psychologists, as well as support groups. This approach provides patients with an extraordinary level of support and caring that considers each patient’s needs and comfort.

For more information about the UMCPP Center for Bariatric Surgery, call 609.785.5870. To find a UMCPP physician, call 1.888.PHCS4YOU (1.888.742.7496) or visit