Many individuals struggling with severe obesity have found bariatric surgery to be highly effective for losing weight, keeping if off, and reducing obesity-related health issues. Three popular weight loss procedures include:
- Gastric bypass surgery – A small pouch is created and connected directly to the small intestine, enabling swallowed food to bypass most of the stomach.
- Gastric sleeve surgery – A large portion of the stomach is removed to restrict calories and reduce hunger signals (the portion that is left resembles a sleeve).
- Gastric banding – An adjustable silicone band is secured around the top part of the stomach to reduce capacity and slow the passage of food, enabling patients to consume less before feeling full.
Results vary and may depend on the type of procedure, age of the patient, activity levels, and commitment to diet and lifestyle changes. Before choosing bariatric surgery as an option, it’s helpful to have a better understanding of the benefits as well as the risks.
PROS OF BARIATRIC SURGERY
Potential for Long-Term Weight Loss
Patients who follow post-operative instructions can experience significant, long-term weight loss. More specifically, gastric bypass surgery patients commonly experience an average of 60 to 70 percent reduction in excess weight. Some severely obese individuals who rely on diet and exercise alone may only lose about 10 percent of excess body weight, and only a small percentage are successful at keeping the weight off permanently.
Helps to Reduce Obesity-Related Health Issues
Some of the serious health conditions and risks associated with severe obesity that may be dramatically reduced after weight loss surgery include:
- Type II diabetes
- Sleep apnea
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Joint-related problems
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Gallbladder disease
- Cardiovascular disease
By decreasing health risks, and under the guidance of a physician, patients may also be able to take less or completely omit certain medications for many of the above-mentioned issues, such as those prescribed for high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, cholesterol, and diabetes.
Better Quality of Life, Mood, and Longevity
Along with health improvements, weight loss surgery patients tend to experience boosts in physical activities and mobility, increased self-esteem and eased social interactions, and decreased feelings of depression and anxiety. Each of these physical and mental enhancements can contribute to a more joyous and self-confident livelihood.
Learn more about the potential benefits of weight loss surgery.
CONS OF BARIATRIC SURGERY
Overall, weight loss surgeries are generally considered to be safe when performed by an experienced bariatric surgeon who utilizes advanced techniques. With that in mind, it is imperative to be educated and aware of the possible complications and risks of these procedures.
In order for the treatment to be effective, some bariatric procedures (including gastric bypass and gastric sleeve surgeries), remove a portion of the stomach or change the structure of the stomach or intestines. Therefore, the patient must understand these types of surgeries are considered permanent and are difficult or impossible to reverse.
Surgical and Physical Risks
Common risks for any abdominal surgical procedure can include bleeding, wound infections, blood clots, hernias, bowel obstructions, and complications with general anesthesia. More specific risks associated with bariatric surgeries may include gastrointestinal leaks, nausea, vomiting, constipation, ulcers or stenosis, low blood sugar, temporary hair loss, malnutrition, and vitamin deficiencies. Proper follow-up after the surgery can minimize the chances of these occurring.
Additional surgeries may also be needed or recommended. For example, some patients may develop gallstones, which could require a gallbladder removal procedure. It is also possible with extreme weight loss for a patient to be left with sagging or excess skin, in which body contouring surgery may be beneficial for those who wish to address those concerns. Our bariatric surgeon, James Parrish, MD, takes abundant precautions to mitigate the risk of complications arising from these procedures. He also oversees a comprehensive aftercare and follow-up program designed to help patients achieve the safest possible recovery and to lose weight safely and effectively.
The most important first step to beginning a weight loss journey is having an in-person consultation to evaluate an individual’s overall health and unique concerns and goals. This will help to better determine whether bariatric surgery is appropriate and the best course of action, or if non-surgical endoscopic weight loss options, such as an intragastric balloon, or other alternatives may be a better fit.
The experienced team of professionals at our practice are passionate about helping patients succeed. Please contact us today if you have questions or if you would like to schedule a consultation with our extensively trained weight loss surgeon, Dr. James Parrish.