Why get a bariatric procedure?

Bariatric surgery, commonly referred to as weight loss surgery or obesity surgery, is one of the fastest growing medical fields in the United States. The surging popularity of bariatric surgery can be attributed to the many benefits it provides to the individuals who are struggling with obesity and associated health conditions.

Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery has been shown to increase life expectancy and provide individuals with a happier, healthier, and more active life.

For people suffering from severe complications associated with obesity, bariatric surgery can provide a life-saving option. Surgical intervention can help people with severe obesity lose a substantial amount of excess weight, reduce the amount of obesity-related diseases, extend life expectancy, and improve quality of life.

In 2010, an estimated 150,000 to 160,000 people in the United States had bariatric surgery, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). This is a slight decrease from the the 220,000 procedures performed annually in 2008 and 2009, but it still reflects a significant increase from the 20,000 weight loss operations performed in 1995.

Bariatric surgery has increased in safety due to advances in medical techniques and long-term outcomes have proven to be beneficial, however, most of the people who could benefit from treatment do not get it. About 15 million people in the United States have severe obesity, yet less than 1% of the obese individuals who meet the patient criteria for weight loss surgery actually have surgery.

There are several surgical approaches and patients should work with their doctor to determine which procedure is best suited for their health status and lifestyle. The most common bariatric procedures are Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, adjustable gastric banding (LAP-BAND or REALIZE Band), sleeve gastrectomy, and biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch surgery. Most of these bariatric procedures are performed laparoscopically using minimally invasive techniques (one or several small incisions), which is less painful and allow patients to heal quicker than with open surgery (one large incision).

Treating Disease of Obesity

Obesity is a chronic health condition that is very difficult to treat. Many obese individuals have made serious attempts to lose weight through diet, exercise, and medically supervised weight loss programs, but have failed. In these cases, bariatric surgery is performed as a last resort treatment option. Choosing to undergo a weight loss procedure is not the easy way to weight loss, but for most it is literally a life-saving step.

Weight Loss Results

Bariatric surgery has been shown to promote excellent long-term weight loss results. According to the National Institute of Health, bariatric surgery is considered the only permanent treatment for individuals who are morbidly obese (100 pounds or more overweight).

  • With diet and exercise, average long-term weight loss is only 10 percent
  • With gastric bypass surgery, average 60% weight loss after 5 years
  • With LAP-BAND surgery, average 55% weight loss after 5 years
  • With duodenal switch surgery, average weight loss is 60-80% of excess weight

Although weight loss surgery is performed to promote weight loss, mounting evidence suggests that it may also be one of the most effective treatments for metabolic diseases and conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and obstructive sleep apnea. Weight loss surgery does more than treat morbid obesity, it treats many other serious health conditions as well.

Improvements of Health Conditions

Weight loss surgery provides many health benefits in addition to weight loss, including:

  • Diabetes: improved in 86% of patients, remission in 77% of patients
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure): improved in 78% of patients, cured in 62% of patients
  • Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol and high triglycerides): improved in more than 70% of patients
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: cured in 86% of patients
  • Premature Death: 5-year mortality decreased by 89%
  • Arthritis: significantly less pain and increased mobility
  • Asthma: improved or resolved in 82% of patients
  • Infertility: improved or resolved
  • Skin infections and skin rashes: improved or resolved
  • Ankle swelling: improved or resolved
  • Lymphedema: improved or resolved
  • Heart failure (obesity-related): improved or resolved
  • Cardiovascular Disease: risk reduced by 82%
  • Migraines: resolved in 57% of patients
  • Depression: resolved in 55% of patients
  • GERD: resolved in over 72% of patients
  • Gout: resolved in 77% of patients
  • Stress Urinary Incontinence: resolved in 44 - 88% of patients
  • Metabolic Syndrome: resolved in 80% of patients
  • Venous Stasis Disease: resolved in 95% of patients
  • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: improved or resolved

Longevity & Quality of Life

Obesity not only reduces a person's life span by 13-20 years, but it affects the quality of life as well. Weight loss surgery has been shown to increase life expectancy and provide individuals with a happier, healthier, and more active life. The overall quality of life improves in 95% of obese individuals after weight loss surgery. Weight loss surgery can improve your ability to participate in physical and recreational activities, improve your social and economic opportunities, and improve your overall sense of well being. Financially, weight loss surgery ends up saving money in medical costs and lost wages due to obesity related illness.