Nowadays, the rate of obesity is the highest ever. The CDC estimates that obesity affected more than one-third of American adults. And with the rise in obesity, there is an increase in weight loss surgery procedures. But how safe are the weight loss surgery procedures and do the benefits outweigh the risks?
There is no doubt that obesity is a significant cause of a variety of serious and life-threatening diseases.
The condition can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke. It has also been associated with some cancers, including breast cancer and colon cancer. A recent study published by a researcher has also suggested a link between obesity and pancreatic cancer.
The condition can severely damage a person’s quality of life, leaving them immobile and causing depression.
It is not difficult to understand why overweight individuals are looking at weight-loss surgeries. According to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), the number of surgical weight loss surgery performed in the US has grown from 13,000 in 1998 to more than 200,000 in 2008.
Obesity is a common disease in the United States and around the world. For a person with extreme obesity, surgery may be the most successful cure.
Most obese people have attempted to treat this on their own, with diet and exercise. Some have had some success, only to recover their weight. More often than not, patients had little to little success with diet and exercise alone. This is not due to a lack of willpower or a wrong diet. When a patient has a body mass index (BMI) higher than 35, their chances of reaching average body weight for a longer period are less than 1%. This is why surgery is an option for patients with extreme obesity. Unfortunately, many people who could benefit from surgery do not know if surgery is right for them. Just about 1% of individuals qualify for surgery in any given year.
How Does Weight Loss Surgery Work?
Weight reduction surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and duodenal changing, operates by changing the stomach and small intestines’ anatomy (or position). This triggers a change in appetite and metabolism (how the body burns calories).
Many of the hormonal signals that induce weight gain are affected by these treatments. This makes it easier to lose weight. But it also needs a balanced diet and a good workout schedule. These procedures are tools for treating chronic diseases and cannot work on their own.
What are the disadvantages and Advantages of Weight Loss Surgery?
1. Gastric Bypass Surgery
This surgery, first developed in the 1960s, effectively splits the stomach in two. The first stomach collects food and is connected to the lower portion of the small intestine. The second stomach’s only purpose is to produce digestive fluids. These fluids are passed on to the small intestine to help digest food. By creating a smaller stomach, the person becomes fuller faster. And when more of the digestive system is skipped, a smaller amount of calories is consumed from the food.
This type of bariatric surgery typically results in the fastest, most dramatic results. In six months, as much as 50% of the total weight loss occurs. This can continue for as long as two years. This fast weight loss results in rapid recovery from various weight-related disorders. These include high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and even diabetes. Furthermore, the results tend to last.
Since food goes through the digestive tract relatively fast, one is at risk of not consuming enough nutrients. Yeah, the body consumes fewer calories. But this also ensures that the body absorbs less calcium, iron, and vitamins from the diet. People undergoing weight loss surgery must take supplements every day to make up for these missing nutrients, take special care, take enough calories, and exercise regularly.
Gastric bypass is a surgical procedure with significant risks, including blood clots and infections. Gallstones, too, tend to occur.
2. Gastric Banding
The gastric band is inflatable. Doctors insert it surgically around the stomach. It likely develops a smaller upper stomach and a larger lower one. With this smaller upper stomach, food moves slowly through the small channel to the lower stomach. Thus people feel full quicker, causing them to eat less.
Unlike gastric bypass, nothing is permanent in this surgery. If you decide to remove the band, it’s a relatively simple operation. Also, similar to gastric bypass surgery, gastric banding surgery is safer. And you can heal quicker. There is also a degree of customization of the gastric band. A doctor may tighten or loosen the band with the injection or saline removal from the band.
Compared to gastric bypass surgery, weight loss with the gastric band tends to take time. This may mean that weight-related problems may remain long after surgery. There are also fairly significant risks that are unique to this operation. The band can slip or break, which can cause extreme pain with only relief from further surgery.
3. Gastric Sleeve
A gastric sleeve, or gastrectomy of the sleeve, is another type of bariatric surgery. This surgery removes almost three-quarters of the stomach. What remains is a sleeve that connects the esophagus to the small intestine.
This bariatric operation is perfect for patients who might be at higher risk of complications during surgery. Compared to gastric banding, there is no foreign restricting device left in the body. The sleeve gastrectomy causes the patient to lose weight quicker than that of the gastric band. But, the gastric sleeve is not as fast as the gastric bypass surgery. Usually, 30-50 percent of weight loss occurs in the first six months of the year. This will last for up to two years. Finally, this surgery can be followed by a gastric bypass. In the case of an extremely obese gastric bypass, surgery can be risky. Losing weight with sleeve gastrectomy can open the door to gastric bypass for these patients.
In the first case, unlike gastric banding, the gastric sleeve is irreversible. Doctors entirely remove part of the stomach. The stomach is stapled where it is cut. And these staples can leak, causing several health problems, including infection. Though surgery is not reversible, this does not mean that weight gain is impossible. The nature of the stomach is that it can stretch, and it doesn’t change post-surgery. With poor dietary choices, the stomach can stretch back to its original size.
The Bottom Line
Decades earlier, weight loss surgery was seen as high-risk, and benefits were seen as mostly cosmetic. This is incorrect. The risk of death from surgery is very low in the first year after surgery. Weight loss surgery also greatly decreases the risk of death from many diseases. These include heart failure (40 percent lower), diabetes (92 percent lower), and cancer (60 percent lower). Comparing the risks of surgery to the advantages of surgery makes surgery much easier to make.