Risks and Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery

More and more people are turning to weight loss surgery to treat their weight problems. Statistics report that over 60 million Americans who are considered obese are turning to surgery when diets and exercise fail them. Surgery is therefore, beneficial- even lifesaving for them.

Weight loss surgery however, is not for all. According to the National Institutes of Health, weight loss surgery is for you if you meet the first or second of the following criteria, and the third, fourth, and fifth criteria:

You are a candidate for weight loss surgery if:

Your body mass index (BMI) is over 40. Your BMI is over 40 is you are:

  • 5’6" tall and weigh more than 248 lbs.
  • 5’6" tall and weigh more than 270 lbs., or
  • 6′ tall and weigh more than 295 lbs.

Your BMI is greater is over 35, and you have obesity-related health conditions that may improve with weight loss.

  • Some of the health conditions that may improve from weight loss include: obstructive sleep apnea, severe arthritis, and diabetes.

You can show that traditional weight loss programs – diet and exercise – did not work.

  • It is safer to lose weight without the risks of surgery. It should therefore be considered as your last resort. Some hospitals or centers may require you to demonstrate that you made sincere efforts to lose weight.

You are ready to commit to permanent lifestyle changes after undergoing weight loss surgery.

  • Surgery should be the beginning of a new, healthier lifestyle. If not, the procedure will be wasted.

You understand the pros and cons of weight loss surgery.

  • Like other surgical procedures, you have to understand what weight loss surgery entails. You should know and accept its risks as well as its benefits.

Risks of Weight Loss Surgery

Though generally considered safe, weight loss surgery has risks. According to statistics, about 10 percent of people who had surgery have complications afterwards. The complications are usually just inconvenient, might cause pain or discomfort, or may require additional surgeries, including:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Wound infections
  • Abdominal hernias

However, serious complications may also occur after surgery. These complications occur about 3 percent of the time, and they can be life-threatening. Some of these serious complications include:

  • Blood clot to the lungs or pulmonary embolism
  • Leaks in the new gut connections
  • Bleeding ulcers
  • Heart attacks

About 1 in 400 people die from weight loss surgery complications at 30 days. Weight loss surgery risks are higher for people over 60 years old. Even after successful weight loss surgery, some problems may still occur, including:

  • Gallstones, which may require gallbladder removal
  • Vitamin deficiencies or malnutrition resulting from poor absorption
  • Excess skin, which often requires surgical removal or body contouring

Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery

The primary benefit of weight loss surgery is, of course, weight loss.

  • Gastric bypass surgery causes an average loss of 61 percent of excess weight.
  • Gastric banding surgery on the other hand causes an average loss of 47 percent of excess weight.

Weight loss surgery also causes improvements in general health. Obesity-related medical conditions usually improve or disappear after weight loss surgery including:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Severe arthritis

About 95 percent of people who underwent weigh loss surgery report better quality of life. Also, some studies suggest that people lie longer after weight loss surgery compared to obese people who do not have surgery.

Source: WebMD