Obesity is a problem in the United States, and it's only getting worse. The CDC reports that more than 36 percent of American adults are obese, as are 12.5 million children and adolescents. Michelle Obama has made childhood obesity a primary focus as First Lady. For individuals who have already found themselves several pounds overweight with a body mass index of 30 or greater, the problem cannot always be solved by starting a new dieting and exercise regime. For them, it is a much more serious issue than losing that extra 10 pounds of holiday weight gain. For them, it becomes a matter a life and death, and even programs like Beachbody and Weight Watchers might not be able to undo the years of physical, as well as emotional, damage. However, a potential solution is opting for weight-loss surgery, or bariatric surgery.
Bariatric surgery includes methods like gastric bypass surgery, sleeve gastrectomy and the adjustable gastric band. Though it has been considered risky in the past, new studies and medical improvements have made the procedures safer than ever. If you struggle with obesity, here are six benefits of having bariatric surgery that could greatly increase your overall health and quality of life. Benefits of surgery outweigh the risks Clinical evidence shows risks of morbid obesity, like developing serious diseases and premature death, outweigh risks of metabolic and bariatric surgery. Dr. John Morton, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and Chief of Bariatric and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Stanford University, said that "if you carry that extra weight and do nothing about it, that’s a real increase in risk … of premature mortality … cancer, diabetes, heart disease, you name it." The risk of death 30 days after bariatric surgery is only about 0.2 percent, which according to Morton, is less than many other common procedures like hip or knee replacement and removal of the gallbladder. It will increase your life expectancy According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, bariatric surgery patients reduce their risk of premature death by 30-40 percent. For those who are morbidly obese and opt for gastric bypass surgery, their life expectancy may actually increase by up to 89 percent. According to a study at the University of Utah, Morton said, there were reductions in mortality across the board. "It really underscores the need for patients who have increased weight to seek out help," he said. It is more effective than dieting and exercise alone Once a patient reaches a BMI of 30, it becomes extremely difficult to lose weight on their own. For patients who are severely obese, dietary counseling fails close to 95 percent of the time. "The reason is not because patients are not trying," Morton said. "Your body is working against you. The hunger hormones go up when you are trying to lose weight on your own." On the other hand, those same hunger hormones actually go down after weight-loss surgery. According to asmbs.org, five years after surgery patients maintain 50 percent of their weight loss. The same can't be said of regular dieters, many of whom gain even more weight than they lost within four or five years. That doesn't mean patients can skip the dieting and exercise altogether. Long-term improvements are greatest when surgery is coupled with better eating habits and increased physical activity. It improves or resolves more than 40 obesity-related medical conditions Morton said that for patients who undergo surgery, "Diabetes goes into remission about 80 percent of the time." There is also a 92 percent reduction in death from type 2 diabetes, as well as a "greater than 50 percent reduction in death from heart disease" and decreased instances of cancer, according to asmbs.org. It improves your overall quality of life Patients who undergo bariatric surgery report a number of improvements, more than just physical alone. They experience vast improvements in self-esteem, as well as work and social interactions. Instances of depression and anxiety also decline after surgery, as do unemployment and disability. "Patients are able to do more (because) a lot of times carrying extra weight holds you back," Morton said. "We’ve seen for patients that it really changes their lives." It positively affects those around you In reference to a study he conducted, Morton noted that having bariatric surgery actually had a positive impact on the patient's family. "The impact of weight-loss surgery is not limited to just the patients themselves, but there is actually a halo effect, (and) the patient’s family lost weight as well," he said. "It shows you how great it is in the sense that if one person is making changes in their diet, then the whole family can do it too."
*All forms of surgery come with some risks. Candidates should carefully consider the benefits and risks with the help of a qualified medical professional before undergoing any type of procedure.