Weight Loss Surgery – Knowing the Basics

Weight loss surgery has gained immense popularity over the past several years, as advances in medical technology and research have made it a more viable option for thousands of patients suffering from morbid obesity. This article explores the risks and benefits of bariatric procedures, to help you determine whether weight loss surgery is right for you.

Obesity has become an epidemic in the United States and shows no sign of getting any better. Many people spend years trying every new fad diet and weight loss gimmick that hits the market. In fact, weight loss is a multi-billion dollar industry.

However, for the morbidly obese individual, the thought of “starving” for months or years on end is unthinkable, and the idea of exercising to lose hundreds of pounds is inconceivable. Enter weight loss surgery.

Is Weight Loss Surgery the Ultimate Cure?

At first blush, weight loss surgery seems like an easy way to fix the problem of obesity. Medical professionals agree that consuming less calories than you burn is the only real way to lose weight. For those who have difficulty managing their food intake, gastric bypass surgery can provide an effective solution by both restricting the amount of food that can be eaten and interrupting the digestive process so the body absorbs fewer calories. Gastric banding procedures, such as the Lap-band® system, are less invasive and easily reversable, and they still help constrict caloric intake. However, these procedures do not affect how the body processes food in the same way that gastric bypass surgery does.

Who Should Consider Weight Loss Surgery?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) is 18.5 – 25, while a BMI of 30 and above qualifies as obese. Anyone with a BMI over 40 should consider weight loss surgery. That means a man who is 100 pounds overweight or a women who is 80 pounds overweight is a potential candidate for weight loss surgery. Often, weight loss surgery candidates will also suffer from obesity-related health issues, such as sleep apnea, heart problems or diabetes, and may also experience lower back and knee problems directly related to being overweight.

While surgery carries many dangers, these may be less severe than the danger of remaining morbidly obese. However, surgery only changes the physical aspects of being overweight. It will not address the mental and emotional causes for excessive eating. Candidates for weight loss surgery should also consider getting the appropriate help to address these psychological issues, because there are no guarantees that any weight loss method, including surgery, will cause you to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Total success is only possible if you fully commit yourself to making the necessary behavioral changes needed to assure you can maintain your desired weight for the rest of your life.

Several different surgical options are available today, but all essentially work the same way by restricting the amount of food that can enter the stomach. No matter which method you choose, undergoing weight loss surgery is a serious decision. You need to consider both the risks and the benefits.

Benefits of weight loss surgery:

  • Most patients will begin to lose weight immediately and will lose anywhere from 50 to 75 percent of their excess weight within two years of surgery. Long-term studies show that, although most weight loss surgery patients do regain some weight, most have kept off 50 percent of the excess weight five to 15 years later.
  • Most other obesity related problems, such as sleep apnea, high blood pressure, diabetes, and lower back or knee pain, improve considerably and in some cases disappear.

Risks of weight loss surgery:

  • Up to 20 percent of the patients require follow-up surgery to correct a complication of the original weight loss procedure.
  • More than one-third of weight loss surgery patients develop gallstones (although newer treatments can minimize this risk).
  • Approximately 30 percent of patients develop severe nutritional deficiencies, such as anemia, osteoporosis, and metabolic bone disorders. Taking the correct combination of dietary supplements can prevent these problems.
  • Women should not get pregnant for at least two years after surgery to prevent serious post-surgical complications. Women should consider pregnancy only after consultation with a health professional to make sure they are taking the correct nutritional supplements to protect both her and the baby from nutritional deficiencies.

Bottom Line: if you are considering weight loss surgery, talk to your doctor and follow his or her advice.

This article provides an overview of health issues related to gastric bypass surgery and is not intended to replace the advice of a medical practitioner. Please consult your doctor prior to making any major medical decisions.

3 Responses

  1. Gina Robinson

    This is going to be the BEST website EVER…I thought October 1st was never going to get here…and NOW November is never going to get here!!!

  2. Kim M.

    This is a great start but I’d like to see more information regarding the DS, or duodenal switch. Though it’s less frequently performed, studies indicate it has the highest cure rate for diabetes and the best long-term weight loss, all without the dumping syndrome or avoiding fats and sugar.

  3. deborah cagle

    I have a thyroid and diebtic. Will this surgery help me out. I want talk to someone who has both problems has had this surgery. Thanks for information.


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