The aging process isn’t for the faint of heart. The numerous changes that occur aren’t always fun. As a plastic surgeon who has to deal with these changes, I have a unique perspective that few have the privilege to experience. We can talk about eating properly, getting regular exercise and avoiding drugs, alcohol and sun, but the number one thing you can do to ensure a long and healthy life is to maintain your ideal body weight. This sounds simple enough, yet almost half of our country is certified as obese, with an even greater percent of people overweight. It truly has become an epidemic:
- 79 million Americans are obese, with the highest occurrence among 40-59 year olds
- Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, among many others
- The estimated total cost of obesity on the US healthcare system is upward of $150 billion
Not a day has passed when I am not confronted with the issue of obesity and a patient’s expressed desire for plastic surgery as a solution. Unfortunately, obesity negatively affects the outcomes of plastic surgery and puts those patients at increased risk of complications, from both anesthesia and the actual procedure. The most common reason that a patient isn’t considered a good candidate for a procedure is obesity. For these patients, I spend a great deal of time counseling patients regarding their general health.
Life comes at us in unpredictable ways. The ups and downs and the stressors we live with are constant. Managing life, kids, marriage, and work in a digital society can simply be too overwhelming for many, resulting in overeating, lack of exercise, resorting to drugs and alcohol and a host of other unproductive behaviors. This puts people on the fast track toward poor health and advanced aging.
I have always considered myself a straight shooter, someone who unabashedly confronts the white elephant in the room. In a society of political correctness, I’m not the one to tell folks what they want to hear. In theory, all doctors should feel a responsibility to steer their patients toward what is optimal for the patients.
Given that there are many actions we can take to ensure our good health, and understanding that people are often most receptive to information presented to us in sound bites, I will tell you that the simplest way to achieve good health is to maintain your ideal body weight.
If you need to focus on one thing, make it maintaining your ideal body weight. The rest can get in line.