Weight Loss Surgery

When the weight ‘just won’t go,’ surgery may be a lifesaver for some women

Although there is no causal link between menopause and obesity, there is an age-related link in that over 30% of women over than 50 are obese. Because of the serious health risks associated with obesity such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers, bariatric surgery is seen as a lifesaver for some women.

Understanding Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery is a common term used to describe a variety of operations for treating severe obesity. It is not a form of cosmetic surgery. These operations are performed to make physical changes to the stomach and/or the small intestine in order to help you decrease the amount of food you eat.

It is a proven method for long-term weight reduction and portion control among people who are exceedingly obese (BMI >40).

A recent study of obese patients who had undergone the procedure and then followed the lifestyle changes necessary for success suggests that bariatric surgery is a lifeline for those who had previously failed to lose weight. It was shown to result in complete remission of diabetes in up to 86% of severely obese patients with diabetes.

It was shown to reduce the risk of death by nearly 30% in patients with severe obesity.

It is not a simple, “quick fix” solution to a serious long-term weight problem. It requires commitment and lifestyle changes for successful weight loss and improved health.

Types of Weight Loss Surgery

Bariatric surgery (weight-loss surgery) includes a variety of procedures performed on people who are obese. Weight loss is achieved by reducing the size of the stomach with an implanted medical device (gastric banding) or through removal of a portion of the stomach (sleeve gastrectomy or biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch) or by resecting and re-routing the small intestines to a small stomach pouch (gastric bypass surgery).

Long-term studies show the procedures cause significant long-term loss of weight, recovery from diabetes, improvement in cardiovascular risk factors, and a reduction in mortality of 23% from 40%.

Be Prepared

In making the decision, you and your doctor will need to consider many factors before determining if weight loss surgery is right for you. Ask yourself if you are up to the challenges you will face.

First of all, you will be required to have a full medical examination. Your doctors will also perform a comprehensive psychological and behavioral assessment to make sure you will be able to look after yourself in a healthy way after surgery.

Bariatric surgery will require you to visit your doctor regularly for follow-up appointments. If you choose the adjustable gastric band procedure, the surgeon will make any necessary adjustments to your band during these appointments. Because the surgery creates physical changes to your stomach (and intestine, if you elect to have a gastric bypass), the routine visits will ensure long-term weight loss success.

Weight loss surgery is usually reserved for people who are seriously overweight, and therefore at a higher level of medical risk, and those who continue to have a longstanding weight problem despite making numerous attempts to lose weight.

Be Committed

Your success is dependent on your motivation and commitment to lifestyle changes. Your eating habits will have to change for you to lose weight and maintain your health. This will involve choosing healthy foods to eat, eating smaller portions, and taking daily nutritional supplements.

Regular exercise (30 minutes a day, five times a week) is strongly encouraged for achieving and sustaining weight loss. Exercise preserves lean muscle tissue when losing weight rapidly after surgery and may also aid in suppressing your appetite. In addition, exercise may help reduce surgical complications, promote healing, and enhance recovery after surgery.

The Risk Factor

Weight loss surgeries are major surgeries that involve risks and may lead to significant short-term and long-term health complications. The risks and complications vary according to the types of surgical procedure you elect to have and often depend on your age, level of excess weight, other existing health conditions, and how well you manage your health and your lifestyle.

If you choose to have the surgery, your surgeon will carefully explain the risks that are unique to you and specific to the type of operation you choose. Be sure to ask your surgeon all the questions you may have about risks and benefits of weight loss surgery before undergoing your procedure.

Finding a Reputable Weight Loss Surgeon

Finding a reputable weight loss surgeon can increase your chance of having a successful operation, a good recovery, and satisfactory progress toward your weight loss goal.

Some factors to consider when selecting a surgeon include: the surgeon’s qualifications and number of successful operations he or she has performed, where you live, what type of health insurance you have, and your current physical condition.

If you are interested in finding out about surgical solutions for weight loss speak to your doctor who will be able to assess your suitability for the procedure.