Weight loss surgery, more generally referred to as bariatric surgery, includes several different surgical procedures that are intended to make it easier to lose weight. Some types of bariatric surgery force patients to eat less by reducing the size of the stomach. Others bypass parts of the digestive system, preventing the body from efficiently absorbing nutrients from food that has been consumed. A few procedures do both.
Is it a quick fix?
Many people frustrated by their ineffective efforts to lose weight and keep it off sometimes wonder if getting bariatric surgery might just quickly force those unwanted pounds off. However, patients who undergo bariatric surgery also have to commit to lifestyle changes such as completely changing their diets and engaging in regular exercise in order to keep the weight from coming back. It’s one tool you can add to your struggle against weight, not a magic fix. Only people highly committed to changing their lives should consider bariatric surgery.
How much weight can I lose?
Bariatric surgery is definitely not the correct choice for someone struggling to lose only a few pounds. It is generally indicated only for persons with extreme obesity (BMI >40) or for people who are very obese (BMI >35) and also suffer from one or more serious weight related problems such as high blood pressure; sometimes, persons with “average” obesity (BMI 30 to 35) who are suffering from serious weight related health problems can qualify. Thus, a woman who is 5’6″ would only be indicated for bariatric surgery if she:
- Weighed 250 pounds or more
- Weighed over 200 pounds and had a serious weight-related health condition
- In some cases, weighed over 180 pounds and had a serious weight-related health condition
It isn’t your first effort at weight loss
Bariatric surgery definitely isn’t indicated for someone who hasn’t made at least one serious attempt to lose weight under a doctor’s or nutritionist’s guidance. It should be viewed as a last resort after extensive efforts to lose weight through non-surgical means. Persons who aren’t fully committed to making lifestyle changes after the surgery will not have good results, and it should be kept in mind these surgeries are not minor procedures. Serious complications and even death have occurred during the surgery or recovery period from the surgery. In addition, many of these procedures can lead to long-term and often unexpected adverse health effects. They should not be undertaken on a whim. However, for committed seriously obese individuals, they can be life-saving and life-changing for the better.