Obesity is a fact in Louisiana. The state ranks in the top 10 least healthy states in the country for both adult and childhood obesity.

Estimates are nearly one out of four adults in Louisiana are obese.

To help combat obesity, Rapides Surgical Weight Loss Clinic is now accepting patients. The clinic not only offers a surgical solution to weight loss, but it also promotes lifestyle change.

“Weight loss surgery has proven to be the most effective option for long-term weight loss,” said weight loss surgeon Matthew Linger, M.D. “Following surgery, many patients will see improvements in conditions such as type II diabetes, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, joint pain and in many other areas.”

Rapides Surgical Weight Loss Clinic is located at 501 Medical Center Drive, Suite 1B on the first floor of Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Appointments may be made by calling (318) 767-2281.

Dr. Linger serves as the medical director of the surgical weight loss program and is assisted by surgeon Samantha Zeringue, M.D., physician assistant Rachael Raines, P.A., and coordinator Debbie Bullock, R.N.

Drs. Linger and Zeringue perform weight loss surgery using the da Vinci Xi robotic surgical system. The benefits of robotic bariatric surgery include fewer complications, less post-operative pain, less blood loss, shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times. Dr. Linger performed the first robotic weight loss surgeries at Rapides Regional Medical Center on Jan. 20 and 21.

Patients of the Rapides Surgical Weight Loss program must meet certain criteria to be eligible for surgery. They must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) in excess of 40 or BMI of 35 if they have at least one other health condition such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease or obstructive sleep apnea.

Patients who meet those criteria must then complete several other steps including changes to diet and nutrition and exercise. Most patients take four months before being approved for surgery.

“Now is the time to regain control of your life and your weight,” said Dr. Linger. “This program is more than just a surgery. It is about teaching a new lifestyle – a healthy lifestyle and how to maintain your weight loss. It is about transformation.

“The need for this service in our region is great and we are pleased to offer solutions that may save someone’s life.”

The program also includes a monthly support program for patients post-surgery. It is held the second Thursday of each month in the Trellis Room at Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Free monthly informational seminars are held the second Tuesday of the month at 5:15 p.m. in the Cascade Room at Rapides Women’s and Children’s Hospital. To register, call (318) 769-3822.