As a treatment for severe obesity, bariatric weight loss surgery’s popularity is growing. When diet and exercise fail the more than 60 million Americans considered obese, surgery, for some, can literally be lifesaving.
But it isn’t for everyone. While generally safe, bariatric weight loss surgery (also called weight loss surgery) has risks. And losing weight after bariatric surgery is far from automatic; it takes commitment to lifelong changes in eating patterns and lifestyle.
According to the National Institutes of Health, weight loss surgery might be a choice for you if you meet the first or second of the following criteria and criteria three, four, and five:
Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery: Are You a Candidate?
1. A body mass index (BMI) greater than 40.
2. Your BMI is greater than 35, and you have obesity-related health problems that may improve with weight loss.
Obstructive sleep apnea, severe arthritis, and diabetes are several conditions that may benefit from even a small weight loss. Weight loss surgery can dramatically reverse these health problems when caused by obesity.
3. You can demonstrate that traditional weight loss programs like diet and exercise haven’t worked.
4. You are ready to commit to permanent lifestyle changes after surgery.
Weight loss surgery is no quick fix. Ideally, surgery is only the beginning of a new healthy lifestyle.
5. You understand the risks and benefits of bariatric weight loss surgery.
Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery: Benefits
The primary benefit of weight loss surgery is easy to understand: weight loss!
Gastric bypass surgery causes an average loss of 61% of excess weight.
Gastric banding surgery causes slightly less – an average of 47% of excess weight lost.
Obesity-related medical conditions usually improve or even go away after weight loss surgery, including:
Obstructive sleep apnea
High blood pressure
Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery: Risks
Yet weight loss surgery carries real risks. As many as 10% of people have complications afterward. Usually problems are only unpleasant or inconvenient, and might cause some pain and discomfort, or require additional surgeries, including:
Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
Serious complications do occur after weight loss surgery. Although rare – happening about 3% of the time – they can sometimes be life-threatening:
Blood clot to the lungs (pulmonary embolism)