Weight Loss Surgery

Weight Loss and Bariatric Surgery Image

Obesity rates are on the rise in American populations, putting millions at risk of developing serious health problems. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2006, only two states had a prevalence of obesity of less than 20 percent.

While obesity is a major health problem on its own, if it persists for an extended period of time, it can cause other health complications, including:

  • asthma
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • sleep apnea.

For some severely overweight people, the likelihood of returning to a healthy weight through a diet and exercise program is low. Consequently, bariatric weight loss surgery may be a solution for those who aren’t able to lose weight with traditional weight loss methods.

Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery

Bariatrics is the branch of medicine concerned with the management (prevention or control) of obesity. Brought into popular use in 1965, the term bariatric comes from the Greek:

  • root baro, meaning “weight”
  • suffix iatr, meaning “treatment”
  • suffix ic, meaning “pertaining to.”

Today, the word bariatrics is usually associated with weight loss surgery. With the increasing prevalence of obesity, the demand for bariatric weight loss surgery has skyrocketed. From 1993 to 2003, the number of gastric bypass bariatric weight loss surgeries performed jumped 600 percent.

Bariatric weight loss surgery is certainly not a quick solution to obesity and comes with inherent risks. Essentially, the surgery alters the bodys digestive process, allowing a person to eat less and still feel full.

Candidates for the surgery must have a body mass index (BMI) higher than 40 and be around 100 pounds heavier than their ideal body weight. To be approved for bariatric weight loss surgery, patients must have tried and failed the following weight loss methods for at least one year:

  • behavioral therapy
  • diet
  • exercise
  • weight loss drugs.

How Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery Works

Bariatric weight loss surgery works by changing your digestive process. The two basic types of bariatric weight loss surgery include:

  • malabsorptive surgery: This re-designs the digestive tract to allow food to bypass the bodys small intestine, preventing some calories from being absorbed. Because your body will only process a limited amount of calories after malabsorptive surgery, it will be forced to burn off excessive reserves of fat to sustain energy.
  • restrictive surgery: This type of bariatric weight loss surgery restricts the amount of food that you can eat. By forcing you to eat fewer calories, your body will begin to burn off its excess fat reserves.

Statistics of Weight Gain After Bariatric Surgery

If you follow your recommended diet plan after bariatric weight loss surgery, you can expect to lose between 50 and 60 percent of your excess weight within two years. The modifications to your digestive system will force you to change your unhealthy eating habits. This means that you will have to follow a healthful diet plan that includes low-fat, low calorie and low sugar foods.

Unfortunately, some people do go on to gain weight after the surgery. Most of the time, these people are not exercising enough and are still consuming too many calories.

According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, one year after surgery, weight loss can average 77 percent of excess body weight. After 10 to 14 years, some patients have been able to maintain up to 50 or 60 percent of excess body weight loss.

These statistics prove that most bariatric patients do lose weight and that the chances for weight gain after surgery are slim. Instances of weight gain are either due to a continuation of poor eating habits or a complication from the surgery. Meeting regularly with your doctor, a nutritionist and a support group can help reduce the likelihood of weight gain after bariatric surgery.

Understanding Bariatric Surgery: Average Weight Loss per Month

Generally, the malabsorptive procedures lead to more weight loss than restrictive surgery. After surgical weight loss, patients need to follow a prescribed diet and stay in contact with their doctors. Most surgical weight loss centers recommend joining a support group after surgery and getting involved in group exercise.

Following your surgery, your average weight loss per month will likely be around 10 pounds. You should reach a stable weight within two years. Because weight loss will be most drastic in the first few months following the surgery, visit your doctor often during this period for both physical and mental health examinations. Your doctor will also address your nutritional and vitamin needs. You may even need to regularly meet with a dietician or nutritionist to learn how to plan and practice healthy eating.


Bariatric Surgery.Info (2008). More Statistics on Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery. Retrieved April 20, 2008, from the Bariatric Surgery Web site.

Center for Disease Control (2007). U.S. Obesity Trends 1985-2006. Retrieved April 21, 2008, from the Center for Disease Control Web site.

Collins, Anne (2007). Introduction to Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery. Retrieved April 20, 2008, from the Anne Collins Web site.

Mayo Clinic (2007). Gastric bypass diet: What to eat after weight loss surgery. Retrieved April 20, 2008, from the Mayo Clinic Web site.