Exploring The Benefits
And The Risks Of Weight Loss Surgery
Surgery to produce weight loss is a serious undertaking.
Anyone thinking about surgery should understand what the
operation involves. Patients and physicians should carefully
consider the following benefits and risks:
Benefits Of Weight
1. Right after surgery, most patients lose weight quickly
and continue to lose for 18 to 24 months after the procedure.
Although most patients regain 5 to 10 percent of the weight
they lost, many maintain a long-term weight loss of about 100
2. Surgery improves most obesity-related conditions. For
example, in one study blood sugar levels of 83 percent of obese
patients with diabetes returned to normal after surgery. Nearly
all patients whose blood sugar levels did not return to normal
were older or had lived with diabetes for a long time.
Risks Of Weight Loss
A) At the time of writing this article, ten to twenty
percent of patients who have weight-loss surgery require
follow-up operations to correct complications.
Abdominal hernia was the most common complication requiring
follow-up surgery, but laparoscopic techniques seem to have
solved this problem. In laparoscopy, the surgeon makes one or
more small incisions through which slender surgical instruments
are passed. This technique eliminates the need for a large
incision and creates less tissue damage. Patients who are
superobese (>350 pounds) or have had previous abdominal
surgery may not be good candidates for laparoscopy,
Less common complications include breakdown of the staple
line and stretched stomach outlets.
B) Some obese patients who have weight-loss surgery develop
gallstones. Gallstones are clumps of cholesterol and other
matter that form in the gallbladder. During rapid or
substantial weight loss, a person’s risk of developing
gallstones increases. Taking supplemental bile salts for the
first 6 months after surgery can prevent gallstones.
C) Nearly 30 percent of patients who have weight-loss
surgery develop nutritional deficiencies such as anemia,
osteoporosis, and metabolic bone disease. These deficiencies
usually can be avoided if vitamin and mineral intakes are high
D) Women of childbearing age should avoid pregnancy until
their weight becomes stable because rapid weight loss and
nutritional deficiencies can harm a developing fetus.
The Costs Of
At the time of writing this article, gastrointestinal
surgery costs about $15,000. Medical insurance coverage varies
by state and insurance provider. If you are considering
gastrointestinal surgery, contact your regional Medicare or
Medicaid office or insurance plan to find out if the procedure
Is Weight Loss Surgery
Gastrointestinal surgery may be the next step for people who
remain severely obese after trying non surgical approaches, or
for people who have an obesity-related disease. Candidates for
- a BMI of 40 or more
- a life-threatening obesity-related health problem such
as diabetes, severe sleep apnea, or heart disease and a BMI
of 35 or more
- obesity-related physical problems that interfere with
employment, walking, or family function.
If you fit the profile for surgery, answers to the following
questions may help you decide whether weight-loss surgery is
appropriate for you.
- unlikely to lose weight successfully with non surgical
- well informed about the surgical procedure and the
effects of treatment?
- determined to lose weight and improve your health?
- aware of how your life may change after the operation
(adjustment to the side effects of the surgery, including
the need to chew well and inability to eat large
- aware of the potential for serious complications,
dietary restrictions, and occasional failures?
- committed to lifelong medical follow-up?
Remember: There are no guarantees
for any method, including surgery, to produce and maintain
weight loss. Success is possible only with maximum cooperation
and commitment to behavioral change and medical follow-up --
and this cooperation and commitment must be carried out for the
rest of your life.
Have You Really Tried
Everything Else for Losing Weight?
Hey, look... I'm not trying to be pushy or anything, but
have you really tried all other options? For example, we've had
hundreds of visitors to this article who have never even heard
of the latest advancements in nutrition research that
combine foods and juices to help people lose weight ...nor
have they even heard of many of the all-natural highly
nutritious juices available that can often work.
When you consider that IF you opt for the surgery you WILL
HAVE TO change your diet and your lifestyle ...and take
nutritional supplements... in order for surgery to be
successful, is it possible --- with the right plan --- you
might be able to do this in a gentle way BEFORE surgery?
I only say this because I care about you ...and if there is
a natural healthy way that can help you, I definitely want you
to know about it. It's your choice.
In any case, whichever you choose, I hope you have found
this article helpful and wish you every
success for a happy, healthy, and physically fit
Additional Sources and
Resources for Weight Loss Surgery
- Gastrointestinal Surgery for Severe Obesity. Consensus
Statement, NIH Consensus Development Conference, March
25-27, 1991; Public Health Service, National Institutes of
Health, Office of Medical Applications of Research. This
publication, written for health professionals, summarizes
the findings of a conference discussing treatments for
severe obesity. Available from WIN.
- Weight Loss for Life. NIH Publication No. 00-3700. This
booklet describes how we lose weight, healthy eating
habits, the importance of physical activity, and behavior
change. Available from WIN.
- Gastrointestinal Surgery for Severe Obesity, NIDDK,
Weight-control Information Network
- American Society for Bariatric Surgery