Dr. Emma Patterson, Medical Director at Oregon Weight Loss Surgery in Portland, OR, was interviewed for an article about how the success of weight loss surgery has led to improvements in understanding how gut hormones work. The article was published by MyHealthNewsDaily and is featured on MSNBC News.

Because of positive and sustainable weight loss results seen with bariatric surgery, researchers decided to investigate how exactly surgery works in relation to the hormones that control appetite and regulate body weight. The researchers found that the gut hormone ghrelin acts differently in response to weight loss from surgery versus pounds shed through dieting. When one diets, ghrelin levels rise, leading to feelings of hunger. Even if weight loss is achieved through diet, ghrelin levels remain high, and feelings of hunger continue, even after eating. After gastric bypass surgery, on the other hand, ghrelin levels fall significantly.

Dr. Patterson explained that this decrease in ghrelin is not seen after all types of weight loss surgery, saying “unlike the drop in ghrelin seen after gastric bypass, those who undergo gastric banding experience a drop in their hunger, but not in ghrelin. This may be because ghrelin communicates with the brain differently after this surgery.” She added that if we can understand how these surgeries work, we may be able to put whatever that ‘thing’ is in a pill, replicating the results of the surgery using drugs.

Also interviewed for this article was Dr. Sunil Bhoyrul, who concluded that “as a result of weight loss surgery, we finally are beginning to understand the physiology of weight loss better than we’ve ever understood it before.”

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