Health Benefits & Risks of Weight Loss Surgery
Having any surgery is a major, life-changing decision that involves weighing the risks and benefits. The benefits of bariatric surgery are plentiful and vast, but it is still a major surgery, and as with any surgical procedure, there are associated risks. A recent study in which Dr. Emma Patterson participated was published in the New England Journal of Medicine – the study reported that bariatric surgery is as safe as any other abdominal surgery.
However, we understand the gravity of your decision to choose to (or not to) undergo surgery. We are here to inform you about your available options to help you balance risks and benefits to make an informed decision that you feel 100% comfortable and confident with.
Health benefits of weight loss surgery
There are number of health benefits achieved with weight loss surgery:
Type II Diabetes
Most patients experience an improvement in control of their diabetes following bariatric surgery. 77% of diabetes patients are able to stop taking their diabetes medications after surgery.
Over 60% of patients with high blood pressure are able to stop medications and nearly 80% have an improvement in their high blood pressure.
Many patients have undiagnosed sleep apnea at their initial evaluation for weight loss surgery. It is important to be tested and start treatment prior to surgery to minimize the risk of complications. 68-95% of patients have resolution of their sleep apnea symptoms following bariatric surgery.
Many patients seeking treatment have elevated cholesterol or lipids prior to surgery. Lipid profiles are improved in 60-95% of patients after weight loss procedures.
Quality of Life
Patients report an improved quality of life and increased activity after weight loss surgery.
Multiple studies have shown a decrease in the long term risk of death in obese individuals after weight loss surgery, mainly due to a reduction in death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. The reduction in risk of death is even greater in those people that have diabetes.
Journal of the American Medical Association. 292:1724-1737, 2004 Sjostrom L et al. N Engl J Med 2007;357:741-752 Adams TD et al. N Engl J Med 2007;357:753-761 Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery. 1(3);213-20, 1997 Annals of Surgery. 247(1);21-29, 2008 Annals of Surgery. 246(1);1028-1033, 2007 Annals of Surgery. 240(3); 415-424, 2004
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Obstructed Sleep Apnea
- Gastro Esophageal Reflux
- Urinary Stress Incontinence
- Low Back Pain
- Joint Pain
- Most weight loss is achieved 12-24 months after surgery.
- Average weight loss is 50-70% of excess body weight.
- Short recovery; return to work in 1-3 weeks.
- Establishment of healthy diet and movement patterns.
- Improved psychological and sociological outlook.
Health Risks & Complications
- Lung problems: pneumonia, blood clots
- Protein, vitamin, and mineral deficiencies
- Wound infection at incision site
- Bowel blockage; leakage of bowel
- Stomach outlet blockage
- Nausea, vomiting
- Transient or temporary hair loss
- Changing bowel habits
- More or less weight loss than desired
- Slower, longer recovery time with complications
- Food intolerances
- Loss of muscle mass
- Unplanned pregnancy (infertility issues may resolve)
- Possible birth defects