Weight loss surgery may seem like a risky decision, but staying obese is usually riskier, particularly in the long term. Time and again, studies show that as an obese person’s life marches on, their odds for good health only get worse. Cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems and sleep apnea have all been identified as side effects of obesity. And while it isn’t a guarantee that staying obese will be deadly, one can be sure that it will at least lead to poor health and, in many cases, unhappiness or depression.
This is where weight loss surgery can provide a turning point. Adapting a lifestyle of exercise and a healthy diet may be a tremendous aid to people who are simply overweight. That’s their turning point. But when an obese person has reached a certain size, their diet has probably become unmanageable, and sudden exercise could present a health risk. In such cases, weight loss surgery is often the best bet.
“Almost all of my patients have dieted,” bariatric specialist Dr. David Provost told The Dallas Morning News. “But once they develop severe or morbid obesity, the likelihood that a diet will be effective in losing weight long-term is about 2 percent. Surgery is the only thing right now that will work for them.”
Those who want weight loss surgery have several options. The two most common procedures are gastric bypass surgery and gastric banding surgery, also known as Lap-Band surgery.
Gastric Bypass Surgery
During the gastric bypass procedure, the surgeon creates a small “pouch” out of the top section of a patient’s stomach. This new pouch is then appended to the lower region of the small intestine. As a result of the procedure, gastric bypass patients do not need as much food to feel full, and the food they do eat is rerouted to the lower intestine, so fewer calories are absorbed.
Gastric Banding Surgery
During gastric banding surgery, commonly known as “Lap-Band surgery”, the surgeon places a flexible, adjustable band around the upper portion of the stomach – again, creating a pouch. The band is lined with a silicone balloon, which is inflated with saline to tighten the band around the stomach and which can be adjusted as the patient continues to lose weight. The new pouch limits how much a patient can eat, and the band slows down the digestion process, which makes band patients feel full more quickly. Unlike the gastric bypass, however, calorie absorption is not affected.
Long-term research shows that both the gastric bypass and gastric banding procedures are effective treatments for obesity, notes Dr. Provost, whose performs weight loss surgery in Denton, Texas at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Both procedures have been proven to resolve high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes in a high percentage of patients, as well as improve longevity for obese patients.
“For someone suffering from morbid obesity, weight loss surgery can absolutely save their life,” says Dr. Provost.” He adds that although the prospect of surgery can be frightening, the health benefits associated with weight loss surgery are worth serious consideration for anyone suffering from clinical obesity.
Weight loss surgery has been proven effective in improving the health and longevity of patients who struggle with obesity. Dr. David Provost has close to 20 years’ experience as a bariatric surgeon and is the Medical Director of the Bariatric Center at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton.