The Benefits and Risks of Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss is a bigger challenge today than it has ever been. With so much junk food and take out readily available, many people have trouble controlling their cravings. When the best laid diet and exercise plans fail, people often turn to bariatric surgery to lose weight. Bariatric surgery is a series of weight loss procedures that reduce the amount of food you can eat. If you are thinking about going for surgery to help you lose weight, here are some things you should know first.

Bariatric Weight Loss Options

These are three of the most common types of bariatric surgical procedures. Depending on your circumstances, your doctor will suggest the best one for you.

Gastric Bypass: Gastric bypass is one of the most popular weight loss surgeries, and it has been around for a long time. For this procedure, doctors re-route your digestive system to bypass the stomach, suppressing excess hunger.

Gastric Banding: In the gastric banding procedure, doctors place an inflatable band around the upper part of your stomach. This band makes you feel full with a lot less food.

Sleeve Gastrectomy: Sleeve gastrectomy removes around 80 percent of your stomach. This technique will make the stomach pouch smaller so you can’t eat large meals.

Health Benefits

Obesity is a serious disease affecting many aspects of life. Most patients experience numerous health benefits after weight loss surgery.

Lower Body Weight: The most obvious benefit of bariatric weight loss surgery is achieving the goal at hand – losing weight. On average, gastric bypass patients usually lose about 70 percent of their excess body weight, sleeve gastrectomy patients tend to lose about 60 percent, and gastric banding patients lose about 50 percent.

Improved Overall Health: Being overweight often comes with its fair share of life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, arthritis, heart failure, and asthma. Reducing your weight will also reduce your level of risk for all of these diseases.

Better Quality of Life: Most patients experience a much better quality of life after weight loss surgery. Significant weight loss results in higher energy, allowing you to maintain a more active lifestyle. Weight loss improves both your physical and emotional health too.

Possible Risks

Like any other surgical procedure, turning to bariatric surgery to lose weight is not without risks. However, these risk factors are discussed well before the surgery takes place, and doctors do everything in their power to avoid them.

Immediate Dangers: In rare cases, patients face issues such as internal bleeding, blood clots in the legs or lungs, and leaks in the gastrointestinal system, during or immediately after surgery. If you are on blood thinners, have a family history of blood clots, or elevated blood pressure, make sure your doctor knows this. He or she will decide if the benefits outweigh the risks in your case.

Long-Term Complications: Each body is different, so the risk factors for each patient are different as well. However, some patients have long-term complications months or years after weight loss surgery such as staple disruption, gastric band slippage, gallstones, ulcers, malnutrition, or food intolerance. Again, these side effects are rare, but should be discussed with your doctor beforehand if you’re concerned.

If you have tried the traditional diet and exercise route, but failed over and over, bariatric surgery might be the weight loss solution you need. While there has been considerable improvement in bariatric surgery over the years, there are still some risks, and these should factor into your choice. It is vital to have a thorough discussion with your doctor before you make a final decision.