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Getting the Facts about Weight Loss Surgery

Written By: Emma Squillace

Do you know anyone who’s had weight loss surgery? Maybe you’ve seen a celebrity who has lost a bunch of weight, and attributed to an operation. Or maybe you’ve started to research weight loss treatments for yourself or a family member. If so, you likely know that there’s a lot of information available on the internet. Some of it is true, and some is not. Today we’re going cover some facts about bariatric surgery to give you perspective on why the experts at West Medical choose to offer these treatments.

Lots of people quality for surgery

Almost 200,000 people have weight loss surgery – or bariatric surgery – each year. While this may sound like a fairly large number, it represents only about 1% of the people who qualify for these operations. It’s estimated that about 24 million people in America have a BMI of 40 or over, or a BMI of 35 or over with a weight-related medical condition. These people generally qualify for weight loss surgery, but the vast majority of them are not taking advantage of this potentially life-saving option.

There are 2 primary weight loss surgeries

The two most popular weight loss surgeries currently are the gastric sleeve and the gastric bypass. The Lap Band operation is still performed sometimes as well, and we advise patients when it may be a good option for them. In addition to surgeries, recent medical innovations have brought us a range of non-surgical weight loss options including the ReShape balloon, Orbera balloon, and Obalon balloon system. West Medical offers patients all of these choices.

Weight loss surgery can come with unexpected changes

One positive – and surprising – change after bariatric surgeries like the gastric bypass or sleeve is that many patients report their tastes have changed. If they used to crave burgers or chocolate, often they don’t any more. Instead, they report they more often crave vegetables. A NY Times article on weight loss surgery talked about significant results from these procedures in part because the surgeries “actually causes profound changes in patients’ physiology, altering the activity of thousands of genes in the human body as well as the complex hormonal signaling from the gut to the brain.”

Weight loss after surgery is often long-term

Many people are able to lose weight by dieting, but so often that weight comes right back. Research shows that for people who are obese, the weight they lose in one year will come back in about 2 months, on average. This is an incredibly frustrating cycle. When people have bariatric surgery, they ask us if the weight loss will be permanent. While no one can guarantee that weight loss is forever, surgery patients do have substantially better success with keeping their weight low. One study of 1,700 veterans found that 10 years after their gastric bypass surgeries, only 3.4% of them had returned to within 5% of their starting weight.

Weight loss surgery is very safe

All surgeries have risk involved. However, people likely over estimate the risk involved in bariatric surgery. Would you be surprised to find that bariatric surgery has a lower mortality rate than gall bladder surgery or joint replacement? It’s true. Bariatric surgery has advanced over the years, and the operations are very safe and effective procedures. These operations are almost always done laparoscopically, which means our surgeons use a few tiny incisions, instead of doing an open operation, which was done regularly a few decades ago.

At West Medical, we specialize in bariatric surgery because we love saving lives and improving the quality of life for our patients. Studies show significant health improvements from weight loss surgery in many patients. And the benefits aren’t just medical. A recent article says, “Matched with comparable patients who did not have [bariatric] surgery, those who did fared much better physically, emotionally and socially. They rated themselves as healthier and were less likely to report problems with mobility, pain, daily activities, social interactions and feelings of depression and anxiety, among other factors that can compromise well-being.”  

If you want to lose weight, and see success in improving obesity-related health conditions like Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea, give us a call. You can speak to our supportive weight loss experts about surgical and non-surgical options by calling 855-690-0565.

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