Weight Loss Surgery Pros And Cons

If you are significantly obese, weight loss surgery might be right for you. Obesity is a health condition that is hard to treat using traditional methods, but weight loss surgery should only be considered as a last resort.

Weight loss surgery is not a cure for obesity but rather a tool to defeat obesity. With that in mind, carefully examine the pros and cons of weight loss surgery to decide if surgery is the best option. Weight loss surgery, with its many pros and cons, is a lifelong commitment and should not be entered into lightly.

Weight Loss Surgery Options

Weight loss surgery restricts food and calorie intake by shrinking the stomach and bypassing the small intestine. Weight loss surgery falls into three categories:

  • Restrictive operations restrict food intake by sealing off most of the stomach and creating a small pouch. Operations include gastric banding and vertical banded gastroplasty (stomach stapling).
  • Malabsorbtive operations reduce the amount of the small intestine that has contact with food to limit the absorption of calories and nutrients.
  • Combination of restrictive and malabsorbtive surgical procedures create a small pouch to limit food intake and bypass part of the small intestine and duodenum to restrict calorie absorption. Operations include gastric bypass surgery.

Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery is not an easy fix, a magic pill or a get-thin-quick scheme. It is a major medical procedure with various pros and cons. Doctors recommend you fully understand weight loss surgery pros and cons before you make a commitment.

The main benefit of weight loss surgery is, of course, weight loss. For the first month, you can expect to lose about a pound a day. Within the first 12 months after weight loss surgery you can expect weight loss of 50 percent to 70 percent of your excess body weight.

Weight loss surgery can also reverse conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea and severe arthritis.

The risks associated with weight loss surgery can vary from inconvenient to painful and may require additional surgeries. Ten percent of people experience complications from weight loss surgery. The following are minor risks associated with weight loss surgery:

  • abdominal hernias
  • Dumping Syndrome (weakness, sweating, faintness, diarrhea and nausea)
  • infection
  • vomiting.

Serious risks include:

  • band erosion
  • bleeding ulcers
  • blood clot in the lungs
  • breakdown of the staple lines
  • heart attack
  • death
  • intestinal or stomach leakage.

Side effects include:

  • excess skin
  • gallstones
  • malnourishment
  • weight regain.

Out of all the pros and cons, the biggest con for some might be the price. Weight loss surgery ranges from $20,000 to $35,000 per procedure. Some insurance companies do cover weight loss surgery. However, they may require documentation from your primary care doctor reflecting up to five years of traditional obesity treatment such as diet, exercise and psychological counseling.

Good Candidates for Weight Loss Surgery

After evaluating weight loss surgery pros and cons, if you are still interested in weight loss surgery take a look at the following criteria to see if you are a good candidate:

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is greater than 40, or your BMI is greater than 35 and you have obesity-related health problems, which may improve with weight loss.
  • You understand the pros and cons of weight loss surgery.
  • You are ready for a permanent lifestyle change.
  • Traditional weight loss programs, like diet and exercise, have failed.

Who Should Avoid Weight Loss Surgery

If you have a BMI of less than 35 then doctors suggest you avoid weight loss surgery. In this case, when evaluating the pros and cons of weight loss surgery, the risks far outweigh the benefits. Instead, doctors suggest a diet and exercise routine supervised by your doctor. You may also want to avoid weight loss surgery if:

  • You are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
  • You are over 65.
  • You have a severe psychiatric illness.
  • You have cancer.
  • You have unrealistic expectations.

Life After Weight Loss Surgery

Like any other surgical procedure, weight loss surgery requires recovery time. Recovery time varies depending on the patient ‘s ability to adjust to his new lifestyle. For optimal results doctors recommend the following:

  • Eat a healthy diet: After weight loss surgery, you can only eat one-fourth to one-half cup of food per sitting. Large servings of food can make you sick. Instead, learn how to eat eight to 10 small meals a day and eliminate junk food.
  • Establish an exercise routine.

  • Schedule regular follow-ups with your doctor: This allows your doctor to monitor your progress and help keep you on track.
  • Take vitamins.Vitamin supplements prevent malnutrition.

Life after weight loss surgery is challenging but 95 percent of people who have had weight loss surgery have had a positive experience. Learning about weight loss surgery and understanding weight loss surgery pros and cons is vital when preparing for this lifestyle change.