Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Surgery
A doctor may recommend weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery, as a last resort for people who are so obese, it is a danger to their life.
Like any operation, weight loss surgery carries risks. Neither is it the end of the weight loss process, as a lifelong diet and exercise regime will be recommended to help maintain a healthy weight.
Are you a candidate for weight loss surgery?
The NHS may use the following criteria to determine if someone is a candidate for weight loss surgery:
1.A body mass index (BMI) greater than 40.
You can calculate your body mass index using a BMI calculator.
2. Your BMI is greater than 35, and you have obesity-related health problems that may improve with weight loss.
Obstructive sleep apnoea, severe arthritis and diabetes are several conditions that may benefit from even a small weight loss. Weight loss surgery can dramatically improve these health problems when caused by obesity.
3. You can demonstrate that traditional weight loss programmers like diet and exercise haven’t worked after having tried these for at least six months.
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 and follow-up at a specialized obesity service 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, and are fit and healthy enough to undergo weight loss surgery and withstand the potential risks.
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 around two-thirds of a person’s excess body weight.
Gastric banding surgery causes slightly less – around 50% of a person’s excess body weight.
Improvements in general health are also common. Obesity-related medical conditions usually improve after weight loss surgery, including:
- Severe arthritis
- Obstructive sleep apnoea
- High blood pressure
- About 95% of people in the US reported 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. A small percentage of people have complications afterwards. Usually problems are only unpleasant or inconvenient, and might cause some pain and discomfort, or require additional operations, including:
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea
- Wound infections
- Abdominal hernias
Serious complications do occur after weight loss surgery. Although rare, they can sometimes be life-threatening:
- Blood clot to the lungs (pulmonary embolism)
- Leaks in the new gut connections
- Bleeding stomach ulcers
- Heart attacks
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 maximise 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 healthily and take vitamins if recommended
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 haemoglobin levels ( anaemia).
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 people. Many weight loss surgery centers offer behavioral counselling programmers to help people make the transition into their new and healthy lifestyle after surgery.