The health benefits can be extraordinary. But it's not for everyone. Know your options.

The potentially significant health benefits of weight loss surgery. Weight loss surgery, known as Bariatric surgery, has been shown to be the most effective and long lasting treatment for morbid obesity and many related conditions. Now, mounting evidence suggests it may be among the most effective treatments for metabolic diseases and conditions related to obesity, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and obstructive sleep apnea.

Bariatric surgery for severe obesity goes way beyond weight loss. Bariatric surgery can result in significant change in metabolism, and therefore, the remission or improvement of type 2 diabetes and other life-threatening diseases in patients. According to a landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2004, bariatric surgery patients showed improvements in the following conditions:
  • Type 2 diabetes remission in 76.8% and significantly improved in 86% of patients
  • Hypertension relieved in 61.7% and significantly improved in 78.5% of patients
  • High cholesterol reduced in more than 70% of patients
  • Sleep apnea was eliminated 85.7% of patients. Snoring also improves in most patients.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease is relieved from the time of surgery in almost all patients
  • Venous thromboembolic disease signs such as leg swelling are typically much improved.
Joint disease, lower back pain, asthma and infertility were also dramatically improved or resolved. The study also showed that bariatric surgery patients lost between 62 and 75 percent of excess weight.

According to a recent study from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the mortality rate associated with bariatric surgery dropped by a staggering 78.7 percent, from 0.89 percent in 1998 to 0.19 percent in 2004. Meanwhile, the mortality rate from morbid obesity was reduced by 89 percent after bariatric or metabolic surgery, according to a study published in the Annals of Surgery in 2004. Also, most patients are able to enjoy greater participation in family and social activities.

In 2006, the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery reported an estimated 177,600 people in the U.S. had bariatric surgery. Less than 1 percent of those who meet the criteria for surgery actually have surgery. About 15 million, or 1 in 50, adults in the U.S. have morbid obesity, which is associated with more than 30 other diseases and conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, hypertension, asthma, cancer, joint problems and infertility. The direct and indirect costs to the health care system associated with obesity are about $117 billion annually.

A variety of options

Weight-loss (bariatric) surgeries change your digestive system, often limiting the amount of food you can eat. These surgeries help you lose weight and can lower your risk of medical problems associated with obesity. The most common procedures include gastric bypass, lap band adjustable gastric banding, vertical banded gastroplasty and biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch.
  • To learn more about Gastric Bypass Surgery, click here.
  • To learn more about Lap Band Adjustable Gastric Banding Surgery, click here.
  • To learn more about Vertical Banded and Sleeve Gastroplasty Surgery, click here.
  • To learn more about Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch Surgery, click here.

Potential Complications

Any major surgery involves the potential for complications - adverse events which increase risk, hospital stay, and mortality. Some complications are common to all abdominal operations, while some are specific to bariatric surgery. A person who chooses to undergo bariatric surgery should know about these risks.