Benefits vs Risks of Bariatric Surgery for Weight Loss

by Wendy Travis

Benefits vs Risks of Bariatric Surgery for Weight Loss

Bariatric surgery is becoming a more and more common form of medical weight loss these days. The procedures used for this purpose are beginning to show very positive results in terms of decreasing patient morbidity and improving quality of life. However, surgery of this nature is not without its share of risks and the risks and benefits need to be carefully weighed by a patient and doctor before this avenue is pursued. We will help you understand the benefits and risks of bariatric surgery to help you determine if a surgical procedure is the right choice for you.

Types of Bariatric Surgery
The benefits and risks of bariatric surgery will depend in part on the type of procedure you choose. Some of the most common types of bariatric surgery include:

  • Roux-en-Y – This is the most common type of bariatric surgery, and involves stapling the stomach so food bypasses a section of your small intestine
  • Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch – This procedure actually removes a large portion of the stomach so food bypasses a large portion of the intestine
  • Lap-Band Adjustable Gastric Banding – Known as restrictive bariatric surgery, this procedure places a band around the stomach to divide it into two smaller sections to restrict the amount of food that can go through.
  • Vertical Banded Gastroplasty – Also known as stomach "stapling", this surgery also divides the stomach into two parts so the patient ends up eating less food

Benefits of Bariatric Surgery
There are many potential positive outcomes from choosing bariatric surgery. These benefits might include:

  • Increased self esteem
  • More energy during the day
  • Improvement of obesity-related conditions
  • Longer life expectancy

Obesity is also dangerous because of the many diseases and conditions that can occur as a result. Some of these conditions include:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Cancer (particularly of the breast and colon)

Studies have shown that when bariatric surgery is used to reduce a patient's weight, many of these secondary conditions are improved as well. According to Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery, some studies have found:

  • High blood pressure improved in 79% of patients
  • Diabetes improved in 86% of patients
  • Obstructive sleep apnea resolved completely in 86% of patients

While these figures are compelling, they don’t necessarily paint the entire picture. Patients will only enjoy some of these benefits if they achieve and maintain the desired weight loss afterward. This means that a patient must be wholly committed to lifestyle and diet changes that will help them keep the weight off for good. For many patients, this may mean extreme changes from the habits that contributed to the weight gain in the first place. To make an educated decision about whether bariatric surgery is the right choice for an individual patient, the risks of the procedure must be weighed as well.

Risks of Bariatric Surgery
The good news is that risks associated with these procedures have been reduced considerably in recent years, as doctors have gained more experience performing them. However, there are still some concerns over bariatric surgical procedures, and patients need to be aware of what they are before they make a final decision about treatment. Some risks may include:

  • Bleeding and infection (which are risks of any surgical procedure)
  • Nutritional deficiency (particularly in gastric bypass procedures)
  • Dehydration
  • Kidney stone
  • Gallstones
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Ulcers in the digestive system
  • Hernia at the incision site

Some post-surgical patients also experience vomiting after eating, particularly if they have a restrictive-only procedure, such as gastric banding.

Bariatric surgery has shown tremendous benefits to many obese patients today, but it is not right for everyone. If you have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40, or a BMI greater than 35 with a potentially dangerous obesity-related condition, talk to your doctor to find out if bariatric surgery is the right choice for you.

To find out about other body contouring options contact a local inch-loss specialists such as Sono Bello - Bellevue, WA.

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