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Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Surgery

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This is from Web MD. I am considering it.

Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Surgery

As a treatment for severe obesityweight loss surgery‘s popularity is growing. When diet and exercise fail the more than 60 million Americans considered obese, surgery, for some, can literally be lifesaving.

But it isn’t for everyone. While generally safe, bariatric weight loss surgery (also called simply weight loss surgery) has risks. And losing weight after bariatric surgery is far from automatic; it takes commitment to lifelong changes in eating patterns and lifestyle.

According to the National Institutes of Health, weight loss surgery might be a choice for you if you meet the first or second of the following criteria andcriteria three, four, and five:

Are You a Candidate for Weight Loss Surgery?

The following criteria may make you a candidate for weight loss surgery:

1. A body mass index (BMI) greater than 40.

For example, your BMI is greater than 40 if you are:

  • Five feet six inches tall and weigh more than 248 pounds,
  • Five feet nine inches tall and weigh more than 270 pounds, or
  • Six feet tall and weigh more than 295 pounds.

You can calculate your body mass index using a BMI calculator on WebMD. In early 2011, however, the FDA approved the Lap-Band restrictive surgery for those with a BMI of 30 or higher who have at least one obesity-related condition, such as diabetes. The move made this particular procedure an option for more people.

2. Your BMI is greater than 35, and you have obesity-related health problems that may improve with weight loss.

Obstructive sleep apnea, severe arthritis, and diabetes are several conditions that may benefit from even a small weight loss. Weight loss surgery can dramatically reverse these health problems when caused by obesity.

3. You can demonstrate that traditional weight loss programs like diet and exercise haven’t worked.

It’s by far preferable to lose weight without surgery’s risks. Weight loss surgery should be considered a last resort after traditional methods fail. Some centers may require you to show you have made serious efforts to lose weight.

4. You are ready to commit to permanent lifestyle changes after surgery.

Weight loss surgery is no quick fix. Ideally, surgery is only the beginning of a new healthy lifestyle.

5. You understand the risks and benefits of weight loss surgery.

As with any surgical procedure, it’s essential to be well-informed before considering weight loss surgery — knowing and accepting the risks as well as the benefits.

Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery

The primary benefit of weight loss surgery is easy to understand: weight loss!

  • Gastric bypass surgery causes an average loss of 61% of excess weight.
  • Gastric banding surgery causes slightly less — an average of 47% of excess weight lost.

Improvements in general health are also common. Obesity-related medical conditions usually improve or even go away after weight loss surgery, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Severe arthritis
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • High blood pressure

About 95% of people report improved quality of life after weight loss surgery. Some studies also suggest people live longer after weight loss surgery, compared to equally obese people who do not have surgery.

Risks of Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery carries real risks. As many as 10% of people have complications afterward. Usually problems are only unpleasant or inconvenient, and might cause some pain and discomfort, or require additional surgeries, including:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Wound infections
  • Abdominal hernias

Serious complications do occur after weight loss surgery. Although rare — happening about 3% of the time — they can sometimes be life-threatening:

  • Blood clot to the lungs (pulmonary embolism)
  • Leaks in the new surgical gut connections
  • Bleeding ulcers
  • Heart attacks

About one in 400 people die from weight loss surgery complications in the first thirty days. The risk is higher for people over age 60. Having bariatric surgery at a center with very experienced surgeons reduces this risk.

Even after successful weight loss surgery, other problems are common:

  • Gallstones, often requiring gallbladder removal
  • Vitamin deficiencies or malnutrition, from poor absorption
  • Excess skin, requiring surgical removal (body contouring)

After Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery should be the beginning of a new and healthy lifestyle. To make the most of the surgery and to maximize results, people need to:

  • Break the binge habit

Nearly all severely obese people have unhealthy eating habits. A common problem is “binge eating.” After weight loss surgery, eating large amounts of food at one sitting can make you sick. For many people, learning to eat small, frequent meals is a challenge.

  • Eat healthy and take vitamins

Eating junk food or neglecting to take vitamin supplements can cause serious malnutrition after weight loss surgery. This can cause bone disease, loss of muscle tone, and low blood counts (anemia).

  • Exercise

Keeping weight off is far easier when a person is active and exercises. In addition, exercise reduces rates of many diseases, including cancer and heart disease. To maintain weight loss in the long term, exercise is essential.

Such profound changes in lifestyle don’t happen automatically or easily for most. Many weight loss surgery centers offer behavioral counseling programs to help people make the transition into their new and healthy lifestyle after surgery.



About Amy

Recently I came to an ugly realization–I am middle aged. I didn’t really think so but then I doubled my age and thought, “Hmmmm…some of people don’t live to that age. I must be middle age.” This epiphany came in the third quarter of my 39th year. So I am surviving middle age…it’s scary.

3 responses »

  1. so you’ve been thinking about this for yourself? I’ve got a friend who had the surgery done oner 5 years ago and she’s done remarkably well…but, like you said, it’s not a magical fix…still a lot of work involved…

    • I’m thinking about it. The heart scare really got to me. I have GOT to lose the weight and I am scared I can’t. My Mama died at 49. I am not happy with where I am at in life and I am not going to be happy until this weight is gone. And if it takes surgery to get it gone, then I may have to do that. I am scared and don’t have any close family to discuss this with and am really scared. I don’t even know if I can afford it. But I am thinking about it. I want to feel better mentally and physically. Ya know? Losing weight in general is not magical. But it will open and close a lot of feelings and things. And it isn’t easy whichever way you choose. Ya know? I know it is work. Period. It’s soooooo hard. I’m afraid and contemplating.

      • My friend’s sister has also had the surgery, but I worry about whether or not she’ll keep the weight off…she doesn’t seem to have realized that it really is a complete lifestyle change. One of the things that my friend does that her sister refuses to do is attend meetings (support group) at the hospital where she had the surgery. I think that may well be the key for her. You know, family and friends can want the best for you but, unless they’ve gone thru what you’ve gone thru, they don’t completely understand what you’re facing. I admit I’ve considered the surgery too, but my doctor doesn’t seem to want to go there…and I really don’t want to either. One thing to think about (you live alone, right? I do), is when you come home from the hospital you need someone with you for a few days…I’m sure my step sister would do it for me except her dad needs her to come by several times a day (diabetic, blind) and we live in different cities…so…there’s just a lot to think about…

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