Weight Loss Surgery Getting Safer, Study Shows

Weight-loss surgery done by experts is getting safer, according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Ironically, The study concludes that one of the greatest “risks” to weight loss surgery patients comes not from the operating room or recovery war, but from the cashier’s desk.

qualify-weight-loss-surgeryFor many patients, bariatric surgery is a lifesaver. In cases of morbid obesity, where a person’s weight becomes a matter of life or death, weight loss surgery can be the only means of restoring a person’s health. But, with this hope comes risk: weight loss surgery brings with it the possibility of unforeseen complications, and even premature death. For patients whose lives are threatened by obesity, these risks are outweighed – so to speak — by the reward that successful weight loss surgery can bring.

But the risks are becoming smaller – at least according to a study out of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon. The researchers concluded categorically that bariatric surgery is safe.

Although a patient’s medical history — blood clots, sleep apnea, and so forth — can increase the risk of complications, the study found that in most cases deaths and serious problems were no more frequent after weight loss surgery than after other major operations.

Even though the risks are low, say the study’s authors, some patients do run extra risk: those with a body mass index (BMI) of 55 or greater, with a history of phlebitis in the limbs or lungs, with obstructive sleep apnea, and those patients who are so obese that they cannot move under their own power or otherwise function normally.

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As for post-surgical risks, the greatest is probably that of malnutrition. Surgeries that limit the patient’s ability to absorb necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals can sometimes cause complications, such as osteoporosis, kidney stones, gallbladder problems, and even bariatric beri beri, resulting in permanent damage to the brain.

Ironically, The study concludes that one of the greatest “risks” to weight loss surgery patients comes not from the operating room or recovery war, but from the cashier’s desk. The cost of weight loss surgery can easily put the average person thousands of dollars into debt if the procedure is not covered by insurance. On that subject, the study’s authors – and, unfortunately, everyone else – have little good news to offer.

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