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Weight Loss Surgery Benefits and Risks
Health Complications, Benefits and Side Effects of Bariatric Gastric Bypass and Lap Band
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Weight Loss Surgery Candidates - Normal Digestive Process - Bypass Raises Life Expectancy - Gastric Bypass - Bariatric Surgery: Benefits
Surgery: Risks - Origins - Abdominoplasty to Remove Loose Skin - Adjustable Gastric Banding - Lap Band - Lap Band System
Jaw Wiring for Super-Obese - Duodenal Switch - Biliopancreatic Diversion Stomach Bypass - Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass - Vertical Banded Gastroplasty
Malabsorptive Surgery - Restrictive Surgery - Questions - Obesity and Bariatric Surgery - Risks of Bariatric Surgery - Stomach Reduction Surgery
Weight Reduction Surgery - Bypass & Nutrional Deficiency - Surgery & Health Risks - Is Surgery Safe? - Success
Is Surgery More Effective Than Dieting - Surgery & Mortality

Health Risks & Benefits of Gastric Reduction Surgery to Treat Severe Clinical Obesity

Weight Loss Surgery - Benefits and Risks

Surgery to alleviate obesity and produce weight loss is a serious undertaking.

Anyone thinking about surgery should understand what a gastrointestinal weight loss operation involves. Patients and physicians should carefully consider the following surgical benefits and risks:

Weight Loss Surgery - Benefits

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 pounds.

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.

Weight Loss Surgery - Risks

  • Ten to 20 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, however.
  • Less common complications include breakdown of the staple line and stretched stomach outlets.
  • 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.
  • 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 enough.
  • Women of childbearing age should avoid pregnancy until their weight becomes stable because rapid weight loss and nutritional deficiencies can harm a developing fetus.

Weight Loss Surgery - Costs

The medical costs of gastrointestinal weight loss surgery can be high. ($20,000+). 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 covered.

Is Weight Loss Surgery for You?

Gastrointestinal surgery may be the next step for people who remain severely obese after trying nonsurgical approaches, or for people who have an obesity-related disease.

Candidates for surgery have:

  • 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 or gastrointestinal surgery is appropriate for you.

Weight Loss Surgery - Questions to Ask Yourself

Are you:

  • Unlikely to lose weight successfully with nonsurgical measures?
  • 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 meals)?
  • Aware of the potential for serious complications, dietary restrictions, and occasional failures?
  • Committed to lifelong medical follow-up?

Weight Loss Surgery - No Guarantees


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 weight-related behavioral change and medical follow-up - and this cooperation and commitment must be carried out for the rest of your life.

Weight Loss Surgery - A Summary of Risks and Benefits

  • Bariatric or gastrointestinal weight loss surgery is not a quick fix or any easy way out. It is a drastic step, and it includes all the pain and risk of any major abdominal operation.
  • Weight loss surgery forces people to change their eating habits radically, makes them violently ill if they overeat and because gastric bypass operations cause food to skip the duodenum, where most iron and calcium are absorbed, there are risks for nutritional deficiencies.puts them at lifelong risk for major nutritional deficiencies.
  • Many lose more than 100 - 200 pounds. Some reach a normal weight, while others remain heavy, though less overweight than before.
  • In a 1991 report, the National Institutes of Health concluded that surgery was a reasonable solution for some people and said, ''a major drawback to the nonsurgical approach is failure to maintain reduced body weight in most patients.''
  • With drugs or diet, most patients can realistically hope to lose no more than 10 percent of their body weight - a mere 30 pounds in someone who weighs 300, for instance - and even that may not last.
  • Alternatively, one study shows that 10 years after the most commonly performed bariatric operation, the gastric bypass, patients on average have maintained a loss of 60 percent of their excess weight.
  • Do not always believe everything you hear about bariatric surgery. Talk with people who have undergone the surgery. See weight loss surgery resources, below.


Additional Weight Loss Surgery Resources:

American Society for Bariatric Surgery
140 NW 75th Drive, Suite C
Gainesville, FL 32607
Phone: (352) 331-4900
Fax: (352) 331-4975
Website: www.asbs.org

You can find hundreds of weight loss surgery patients at ObesityHelp.com. You can find your surgeon, research his credentials and read about what his patients have to say about him.

Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery
For short introductory articles on gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding and issues surrounding the benefits and health complications of weight loss surgery.


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