Weight loss surgery is an increasingly attractive option for patients who have tried to reduce their body weight in several ways but have been unsuccessful on their own. Weight loss surgery can improve overall health, lengthen lifespan, and help with chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. However, weight loss surgery is not without its drawbacks.
Dr Carlos Barba of Harlingen, TX, examines the pros and cons of weight loss surgery, sharing the benefits and some of the cautions that go along with this life-changing procedure.
Pros of Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery is well-tolerated in most patients. The preparation process can be lengthy, but it is necessary to ensure that the patient has the proper attitude toward weight loss and their health. Here are some of the many benefits of weight loss surgery, as presented by Dr Carlos Barba.
1. Initial and Sustained Weight Loss
Weight loss surgery provides rapid but safe weight loss in the early weeks and months after the procedure. For patients who have had trouble losing weight on their own using diet and exercise, this quick change in body composition can encourage and motivate the patient to do more to protect their health.
Patients must continue to follow the diet and exercise requirements their bariatric surgeon gives, but they are generally motivated to continue living a healthy lifestyle.
2. Reduction in Chronic Conditions
Chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease can be improved and, in some cases, reversed by weight loss surgery. Removing excess body fat reduces insulin resistance, lessens the effort that the cardiovascular system must expend, and takes the pressure off the bones and joints, leading to more freedom of movement.
3. Longer Lifespan After Surgery
Patients who have undergone weight loss surgery have a longer lifespan than those who opt not to have the surgery. A 2015 study published in the Annals of Surgery found that a 45-year-old woman with diabetes and a BMI of 45 gained over 6 ½ years of life expectancy after bariatric surgery.
4. Sustainable Weight Loss
Bariatric surgery produces sustainable weight loss. The patient’s reduced stomach capacity makes it difficult to overeat. As long as the proper dietary regulations are followed, the patient should continue to lose weight until they have reached their baseline. Weight loss surgery reduces the “yo-yo dieting” effect that many people experience while trying to lose weight on their own, characterized by a cycle of healthy behavior and a cycle of cheating on their diet.
5. Positive Lifestyle Change
People who have had weight loss surgery are more likely to get enough physical activity than the obese. When people are losing weight from the surgery, they are more motivated to continue the process independently. Having a lower body weight makes it easier to be active, and patients are more likely to make fitness a major part of their lifestyle.
6. Positive Psychosocial Benefits
Unfortunately, obese and overweight people face a great deal of judgment from society regarding their condition. Weight loss surgery makes people feel better about themselves and reduces the social pushback that people experience when overweight or obese.
Cons of Weight Loss Surgery
While most people have a positive experience with weight loss surgery, sometimes there are undesirable outcomes. The benefits of the procedure generally outweigh these, but they are worth keeping in mind as you decide whether to go forward with the surgery.
Not all health insurance plans cover bariatric surgery. Only 37 percent of health care plans paid for by small employers cover the surgery, compared to 58 percent of large employers. This means that potential weight loss surgery candidates would either have to go into debt to cover the surgery or that they would be unable to afford it.
2. Possible Surgical Complications
While complications from weight loss surgery are uncommon, they can be serious. Abdominal hernias are the most common complication of weight loss surgery that may require follow-up surgical care. Blood clots, ulcers, gallstones, and nutritional deficiencies may occur.
3. Lengthy Preparation Process
The process of undergoing bariatric surgery begins many months before the procedure itself. Patients need to try to lose as much weight as they can on their own before surgery, following a restrictive diet plan. They are also asked to exercise as much as possible. Patients need to undergo psychological examinations and testing to be deemed good candidates for surgery. For many people, this pre-surgical process is tedious, and they cannot adhere to it.
4. Regaining Weight
As with any weight-loss method, there is always the chance that patients will regain weight after the intervention has been made. Not eating the proper diet after surgery can stretch the stomach pouch, making it more likely that the patient will regain weight.
Understanding the Risks and Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery
Dr Carlos Barba wants patients to understand that weight loss surgery is a major commitment but can make a huge positive difference in their lives. Patients are encouraged to do as much research as possible before deciding to proceed with weight loss surgery, considering the pros and cons.