Why Choose Bariatric Surgery?

Obesity has become a significant national health issue. In the last two decades the rates of overweight and obesity for adults and children have nearly doubled, and obesity is fast approaching tobacco as the top underlying preventable cause of death in the United States. Morbid obesity is associated with a number of serious conditions that severely endanger the health of overweight patients, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.
Bariatric surgery has been shown to resolve or significantly improve many of the serious health conditions that effect obese patients. The National Institutes of Health recommends Bariatric Surgery as the way achieve long-term weight loss for morbidly obese patients. “Weight loss surgery for the morbidly obese, when combined with behavior modification, is currently the most reliable and only choice for long term maintenance of excess weight loss.” (NIH Consensus Statement, March 1991)

The Obesity Society, American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology jointly published guidelines for the treatment of obesity in 2013. Those guidelines advise that qualified patients should be referred to an experienced bariatric surgeon for consultation and evaluation.

Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery

Increased Life Expectancy

The risk of death from obesity-related conditions is far greater than the risk of death from bariatric surgery. Obesity is now the second leading underlying cause of preventable death, with tobacco being first. Recent studies show that the risk of an early death for those struggling with obesity is twice that of a non-obese person.

Resolution or Improvement of Obesity-related Health Conditions

It has been said that you can cure five diseases with one operation. No procedure other than weight loss surgery has the power to do that. Following surgery, the cure and improvement rates for adult-onset diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease and hypercholesterolemia are remarkable. Recent research also suggests that morbidly obese patients who undergo weight-loss surgery greatly reduce their risk of certain types of cancer.

Long-Term Weight Loss

Although most patients enjoy an improvement in obesity-related health conditions (such as mobility, self-image and self-esteem) after the successful results of weight loss surgery, these results should not be the overriding motivation for having the procedure. The goal is to live better, healthier and longer.

Things to Consider

You should make the decision to have weight loss surgery only after careful consideration and consultation with an experienced bariatric surgeon or a knowledgeable family physician. In making the decision of whether or not to have bariatric surgery, you should consider the following:

Risks of Surgery

As with any surgery, there are immediate and long-term complications and risks. Risks can include but are not limited to:

  • Bleeding*
  • Complications due to anesthesia and medications
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Dehiscence (separation of areas that are stitched or stapled together)
  • Infections
  • Leaks from staple lines
  • Marginal ulcers
  • Pulmonary problems
  • Stenosis (narrowing of a passage, such as a valve)
  • Death

It is important to remember that there are no ironclad guarantees in any kind of medicine or surgery. What can be said, however, is that weight loss surgery will be the most successful when the patient makes a lifelong commitment. Ultimately, the decision to have the procedure is entirely up to you. After considering all the information, you must decide if the benefits outweigh the side effects and potential complications. This surgery is only a tool. Your ultimate success depends on strict adherence to the recommended dietary, exercise and lifestyle change to be healthier for the rest of your life.