Weight loss surgery is a serious surgery. Its growing use to treat morbid obesity is the result of four factors:
- Our current knowledge of the significant health risks of morbid obesity
- The relatively low risk and complications of the procedures versus not having the surgery
- Proven health benefits – surgery at the New Jersey Bariatric Center resolves or improves 90% of patients’ diabetes, 96% of patient’s hypertension, and 73% of patient’s obstructive sleep apnea
- The ineffectiveness of current non-surgical approaches to produce sustained weight loss (Diet, exercise and behavior modifications result in less than 10 percent long-term weight loss versus 60-80 percent excess weight loss with surgery) especially in the morbidly obese population.
Health Benefits of Bariatric Surgery
At the New Jersey Bariatric Center, we view bariatric surgery first and foremost as a method for alleviating the debilitating, chronic disease known as morbid obesity. In most cases, the minimum qualification for consideration as a candidate for the procedure is 100 lbs. above ideal body weight or those with a Body Mass Index of 40 or greater. Plus, patients must demonstrate serious motivation and a clear understanding of the extensive dietary, exercise and medical guidelines that must be followed for the remainder of their lives after having weight loss surgery.
The health benefits of weight loss surgery are striking and undeniable:
- An improvement of obesity-related conditions
|Obesity-Related Health Conditions||Resolved/Cured(%) after surgery||Improved(%) after surgery|
|Blood Pressure High||92%||100%|
|Sleep Apnea Syndrome||98%||100%|
|Urinary Stress Incontinence||97%||100%|
*Wittgrove AC and Clark GW. "Laparoscopic gastric bypass, Roux-en-Y- 500 patients: technique and
- Improvements in quality of life
- Effectively maintaining long term weight loss
- Improvement in mobility and stamina
- Better mood and self-esteem
Improvements in Obesity-Related Health Conditions
Patients will often see improvements in obesity-related medical conditions that they had before bariatric surgery such as diabetes mellitus, glucose intolerance, high cholesterol/triglycerides, hypertension and sleep apnea. In general, 70 – 95% of patients with obesity-related medical conditions are no longer on medication for these conditions three years after bariatric surgery.
Although it can't be said for sure that heart disease is reduced, the improvement in problems such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and diabetes suggests that improvement in risk is very likely. In a recent study, the risk of death from cardiovascular disease was reduced in diabetic patients, who are particularly susceptible to this problem.
High Blood Pressure
At least 70% of patients who have high blood pressure, and who are taking medications to control it, are able to stop all medications and have a normal blood pressure, usually within 2 - 3 months after surgery. When medications are still required, their dosage can be lowered, with reduction of their side-effects.
High Blood Cholesterol
Over 80% of patients will develop normal cholesterol levels within 2 - 3 months after operation.
This condition responds dramatically to weight loss, usually by becoming completely controlled. A person who is still troubled by incontinence can choose to have specific corrective surgery later, with much greater chance of a successful outcome with a reduced body weight.
Low Back Pain and Joint and Disc Disease
Patients usually experience considerable relief of pain and disability from arthritis and from pain in the weight-bearing joints. This tends to occur early, with the first 30 to 40 pounds lost, usually within about a month after surgery. Of course, if there is nerve irritation, or structural damage already present, it may not be reversed by weight loss, and some pain symptoms can persist.
Most people with asthma find that they have fewer and less severe attacks, and sometimes none at all.
Dramatic relief of sleep apnea occurs as our patients lose weight. Many report that within a year of surgery, their symptoms were completely gone, and they had even stopped snoring completely - and their spouses agree.
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Over 90% of Type II diabetics obtain excellent results, usually within a few days after surgery and normal blood sugar levels, allowing freedom from all medications, including insulin injections. There is no medical treatment for diabetes which can achieve as complete and profound an effect. This has led some physicians to suggest that surgery may be the best treatment for diabetes, in the severely obese patient. Borderline diabetes is even more reliably reversed by gastric bypass. Since this condition becomes diabetes in many cases, the operation can frequently prevent diabetes, as well.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Relief of all symptoms of reflux usually occurs within a few days of gastric bypass surgery, for nearly all patients. A study is now beginning to determine if the changes in the esophageal lining membrane, called Barrett's esophagus, may be reversed by the surgery as well - thereby reducing the risk of esophageal cancer.