Most people have a few pounds they want to lose; but when weight falls into the range of obesity, the stakes to lose weight get higher. Losing weight isn’t just about body image or how you look in a swimsuit. It contributes to health and quality of life, or lack there of. Those struggling with obesity are often driven to lose weight quickly because of these reasons. In these circumstances, bariatric surgery is often presented as a weight loss option. Still, patients often want to know if the bariatric surgery risks and benefits make surgery worth it. We’ve outlined the benefits and risks so you can decide for yourself:
Bariatric Surgery Risks
For some, surgery can seem like an intimidating option. Making the decision to “go under the knife” can be nerve wracking and does take some consideration. But, with all of the benefits patients can gain from undergoing weight loss surgery, the benefits and results of surgery often outweigh the surgical risks. If you’re considering weight loss surgery or already have plans to undergo a bariatric procedure, here are some risks you should be aware of. Keep in mind that your risk level can only be determined by your healthcare providers.
- Surgical complications: As with any surgery, there is always a risk of surgical complications–even with a minimally invasive procedure like weight loss surgery. These complications can include excessive bleeding, pulmonary embolism, gastrointestinal leak, and death. However, these complications only occur in about 1% of patients and fewer. Your risk level will also depend on your BMI (body mass index) and any severe medical conditions. Your surgeon will be able to assess your risk level, based on your specific situation.
- Post-surgery risks: Following surgery, complications can occur if patients don’t follow their surgeon’s instructions or if something went awry with the procedure itself. Infection, nutritional deficiencies, failure to lose weight or maintain weight loss, too much weight loss, and other post-surgery complications are possible, although rare. Also, some surgeries come along with their own specific complications. For example, lap band patients may need to have their band adjusted a few times before they begin to lose weight at an appropriate rate.
Bariatric Surgery Benefits
Weight loss surgery is a popular solution for obesity because it helps patients achieve some incredible results. While any surgery carries risk, weight loss surgery also has some incredible benefits. Here are a few benefits you can expect following surgery if you continue following your surgeon’s post-op diet and exercise instructions:
- Weight loss: An obvious benefit of bariatric surgery is major weight loss. The amount of weight lost in one year is often significant, but also depends on the type of weight loss surgery a patient has, as well as how well the patient follows their post-op diet and exercise modifications. One year after surgery, gastric bypass patients can lose around 60-80% of their excess body weight. Gastric sleeve patients will often lose 60-70% of their excess weight within 2 years. Not only do patients lose this excess weight, they also keep it off in the long-term.
- Improvement of co-morbidities: While weight loss surgery helps patients achieve their weight loss goals and maintain those results, there are still more benefits it can help patients reach. It has helped patients overcome many obesity related medical conditions, such as sleep apnoea, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and more. Weight loss surgery has been shown to vastly improve, and even resolve many of these medical conditions–including type 2 diabetes. These health improvements can also improve a patient’s quality of life, and even help patients live longer.
Feature courtesy of Riverside Surgical and Weight Loss Center