T                 hese days it seems everyone is looking to lose weight, be it to improve on an athletic goal or look better in skinny jeans. Most will take up running three times a week, maybe cut down on desserts for a while. But what if all of these measures have been taken to no avail? When running a mile is physically impossible, and trading chips for carrots feels like starvation? This is where the Weight Loss Institute comes in.

Started in Tempe in 2006 when doctors John DeBarros and Michael Orris teamed up following the bankruptcy of WISH Center — a bariatric center at which they were both surgeons — the Weight Loss Institute of Arizona has now expanded to four locations.

The newest of these is the Tucson office, which opened in February to a city lacking a top surgeon in the field.

“Not only was Tucson a natural extension of our offices in Phoenix,” said DeBarros, “but the city’s top bariatric surgeon stopped practicing, which left a vacuum to be filled.”

The Weight Loss Institute offers a range of procedures, each of which patients are carefully walked through in order to weigh their options based on the risks and benefits associated with each, as well as the realistic goals and outcomes to be expected.

“Most people take a year to decide on surgery, from the time they first walk through the door,” said DeBarros. “Those who come to us have already tried everything — diet, exercise. This is a last resort.”

But bariatric surgery is anything but a quick fix. Catering only to cases that fall under the FDA guidelines for obesity, the Weight Loss Institute of Arizona provides an ongoing support program, complete with dieticians, physicians, exercise physiologists, psychologists, and monthly support groups. DeBarros explains that this is because “The research shows that it takes three years to break a bad behavior,” and the Institute is committed to following through on their promises. He asserts that this tends to be the main challenge in any weight loss journey, and moreover a challenge to American society. “Poor health has been institutionalized. We skip meals, then double up on the next because we’re so hungry. Our portions are out of control,” he said. “I see children being raised in that kind of culture, and honestly it’s a form of child abuse.”

The Weight Loss Institute strives to reverse the damage of this institutionalized neglect by going beyond the operating room, and extending aid into all aspects of patients’ lives.

The Weight Loss Institute of Arizona is located at 6261 N. La Cholla Blvd., Suite 201. Call (855) TUS-THIN with any questions.

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