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Choosing Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery is major surgery. Although most patients enjoy an improvement in obesity-related health conditions (such as mobility, self-image and self-esteem) after the successful results of weight loss surgery, these results should not be the overriding motivation for having the procedure. The goal is to live better, healthier and longer.

That is why you should make the decision to have weight loss surgery only after careful consideration and consultation with an experienced bariatric surgeon or a knowledgeable family physician. A qualified surgeon should answer your questions clearly and explain the exact details of the procedure, the extent of the recovery period and the reality of the follow-up care that will be required. They may, as part of routine evaluation for weight loss surgery, require that you consult with a dietician/nutritionist and a psychiatrist/therapist. This is to help establish a clear understanding of the post-operative changes in behavior that are essential for long-term success.

It is important to remember that there are no ironclad guarantees in any kind of medicine or surgery. There can be unexpected outcomes in even the simplest procedures. What can be said, however, is that weight loss surgery will only succeed when the patient makes a lifelong commitment. Some of the challenges facing a person after weight loss surgery can be unexpected. Lifestyle changes can strain relationships within families and between married couples. To help patients achieve their goals and deal with the changes surgery and weight loss can bring, most bariatric surgeons offer follow-up care that includes support groups, dieticians and other forms of continuing education.

Ultimately, the decision to have the procedure is entirely up to you. After having heard all the information, you must decide if the benefits outweigh the side effects and potential complications. This surgery is only a tool. Your ultimate success depends on strict adherence to the recommended dietary, exercise and lifestyle changes.

How Effective is Surgery?

The actual weight a patient will lose after the procedure is dependent on several factors. These include:

  • Patient’s age
  • Weight before surgery
  • Overall condition of patient’s health
  • Surgical procedure
  • Ability to exercise
  • Commitment to maintaining dietary guidelines and other follow-up care
  • Motivation of patient and cooperation of their family, friends and associates

In general, weight loss surgery success is defined as achieving loss of 50% or more of excess body weight and maintaining that level for at least five years. Clinical data will vary for each of the different procedures mentioned on this site. Results may also vary by surgeon. Ask your doctor for the clinical data stating their results of the procedure they are recommending.

Clinical studies show that, following surgery, most patients lose weight rapidly and continue to do so until 18 to 24 months after the procedure. Patients may lose 30 to 50% of their excess weight in the first six months and 77% of excess weight as early as 12 months after surgery. Another study showed that patients can maintain a 50-60% loss of excess weight 10-14 years after surgery. Patients with higher initial BMIs tend to lose more total weight. Patients with lower initial BMIs will lose a greater percentage of their excess weight and will more likely come closer to their ideal body weight. Patients with Type 2 Diabetes tend to show less overall excess weight loss than patients without Type 2 Diabetes. The surgery has been found to be effective in improving and controlling many obesity-related health conditions. A 2000 study of 500 patients showed that 96% of certain associated health conditions studied (back pain, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression) were improved or resolved. For example, many patients with Type 2 Diabetes, while showing less overall excess weight loss, have demonstrated excellent resolution of their diabetic condition, to the point of having little or no need for continuing medication.

How Does Surgery Reduce Weight?

Surgeons first began to recognize the potential for surgical weight loss while performing operations that required the removal of large segments of a patient’s stomach and intestine. After the surgery, doctors noticed that in many cases patients were unable to maintain their pre-surgical weight. With further study, surgeons were able to recommend similar modifications that could be safely used to produce weight loss in morbidly obese patients. Over the last decade these procedures have been continually refined in order to improve results and minimize risks. Today’s bariatric surgeons have access to a substantial body of clinical data to help them determine which surgeries should be used and why.

Online Resources

SWLbrochure_FULL 09-12-18 for PDFsm“>Northwest Medical Center Surgical Weight Loss Handbook (PDF)
This helpful handbook is given to all of our surgical weight loss patients to help act as a guide both before and after surgery.

Northwest Medical Center Surgical Weight Loss Journal (PDF)
This helpful journal is given to all of our surgical weight loss patients after surgery to track their progress.

American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery
Founded in 1983, foremost American surgeons have formed the society’s leadership and have established an excellent organization with educational and support programs for surgeons and allied health professionals. The purpose of the society is to advance the art and science of bariatric surgery by continued encouragement of its members.

Obesity Surgery Directory
Is the biggest and the best directory about Obesity Surgery on the Internet. Anything you can think about Obesity Surgery, you can find here.

ObesityHelp.com
Is dedicated to the education, empowerment, and support all individuals affected by obesity, along with all others (friends, employers, physicians, etc.) concerned. We focus on common people afflicted with this common problem.

The Society of American Gastrointestinal & Endoscopic Surgery
SAGES represents a worldwide community of surgeons that can bring minimal access surgery, endoscopy and emerging techniques to patients in every country.

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