At New Jersey Bariatric Center®, we view bariatric surgery first and foremost as a method for alleviating the debilitating and chronic disease known as morbid obesity. In most cases, the minimum qualification for consideration as a candidate for the procedure is 100 pounds above ideal body weight or those with a body mass index (BMI) 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. Once these qualifications are met, the health benefits of weight loss surgery are striking and undeniable:
Over 90 percent of type 2 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 a severely obese patient. Borderline diabetes is even more reliably reversed by gastric bypass. Since this condition results in diabetes in many cases, the operation can frequently prevent the condition.
At least 70 percent of patients who have high blood pressure — including those who are taking medications to control it— are able to stop all medications and have a normal blood pressure, usually within two to three months after surgery. When medications are still required, the dosage can generally be lowered, resulting in a reduction of side effects.
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 for cardiovascular disease 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.
Patients usually experience considerable relief of pain and disability from arthritis and 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.
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 (known as Barrett’s esophagus) may be reversed by the surgery as well, thereby reducing the risk of esophageal cancer.
*According to studies, bariatric surgery results in an average weight loss of 45-75 percent of excess body weight. Results may vary depending on several factors, including adherence to post-operative guidelines. Please visit Choosing a Procedure for more info on excess weight, typical weight loss per procedure and dietary and exercise requirements.