The journey to wellness

August 05, 2019
Young woman in exercise clothing

New Baritastic app helps weight-loss surgery patients every step of the way

Take a look at “before” and “after” photos of patients who have had successful bariatric (or weight-loss) surgeries and you’re sure to be inspired. Those not familiar with the process often mistakenly believe the path from “before” to “after” involves just a single step—getting the surgery itself. In reality, the journey is much longer than that. It starts well before surgery and continues long after.

Doctors Hospital of Laredo has introduced a new tool to help support bariatric surgery patients every step of the way. The Baritastic smartphone app, available for free on major app stores, has tools for each part of the process and even allows users to enter a code that connects them to Doctors Hospital.

Bariatric Program Coordinator Blanca Villarreal, RD, LD, is enthusiastic about the app’s capabilities, starting with the patient’s very first visit. “You have to take several steps to be considered for surgery,” she says. This includes things like a psychological evaluation, a physical from your primary care doctor and consultations with a dietitian. “We can set up appointment reminders on the app,” Villarreal says. “It helps so much with the presurgery process. Thanks to the notifications, app users are much less likely to miss these important dates.”

Once a person has been cleared for surgery—and after months of preparation—it’s on to the procedure itself. The two most popular options are gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. Both are minimally invasive surgeries performed laparoscopically at Doctors Hospital.

Gastric bypass (also known as Roux-en-Y) creates a smaller stomach and reroutes it to the small intestine, bypassing portions of the digestive track. Sleeve gastrectomy removes a portion of the stomach so that less food can be consumed at a time. To be successful, both surgeries require a lifelong commitment to significant lifestyle changes. “It’s important that patients understand what’s expected,” says Villarreal. “The app helps with that by letting patients preview what their days will be like going forward.”

Learn more about weight-loss surgery >

Baritastic also helps post-surgery patients stay on track with reminders for fluid intake, meals, protein shakes and vitamins. “Because you can only have so much food, there is a lot of planning and scheduling involved to maximize nutrient content,” says Villarreal. Exercise can also be tracked and the app integrates with major fitness devices to capture steps.

Connecting to Doctors Hospital is another way to stay accountable. “I can monitor the patient’s progress” Villarreal says. “Knowing how someone is doing when it comes to changing their habits helps me to provide personalized support.”

Villarreal is especially excited about the app’s journaling section. “Patients can capture their thoughts and feelings, add pictures, track inches and input their moods,” she says. “Their routines change a lot and that can be emotional,” she adds. “Journaling helps remind patients that they made a decision to be healthier—that they’re on a new journey now.”

Is weight-loss surgery right for you?

Weight-loss surgery may be right for you if:

  • You are 18 years of age or older.
  • You are at least 80 pounds overweight, depending on other health conditions.
  • Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is greater than 30.
  • You have tried other weight-loss methods without success.
  • You are medically stable and physically able to withstand surgery.
  • You pass a psychological screening test that helps ensure you are able to comply with post-surgical behavior modifications.
  • You complete all required pre-operative testing.