Why Gastric Sleeve Surgery is Safer Than “Diet & Exercise” Advice

The results of a recent, high-profile study shocked a lot of people when they suggested that bariatric surgery like gastric sleeve is actually safer for long-term health than traditional therapies. This contradicts the long-touted idea that dietary changes, exercise, and behavior modification are less risky than surgery.


Confession: I wasn’t one of the people who was shocked by these results.


I witness the life-saving power of gastric sleeve every day. My patients regain their health, prolong their lives, and begin enjoying life again. You know what hasn’t led to permanent weight loss for every single one of them? Dieting and exercising without the benefit of gastric sleeve surgery. Here’s the science behind what the Endobariatric team is privileged to be part of on a daily basis.


The Numbers

This study, which looked at patient data over a 10-year period, was conducted by researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and the Clalit Research Institute in Israel. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the findings showed that

middle-aged patients who opted for obesity surgery cut their risk of death by 50 percent over those who just tried diet, exercise, and behavioral changes.


This bears repeating: They cut their risk of death in half.


Among the 8,385 people who had surgery, versus the 25,155 who chose non-invasive options, the bariatric pool had better success in reducing their body mass index (BMI) and improving their blood pressure. Surgery patients also experienced lower rates of new diabetes diagnoses and higher rates of resolving existing diabetes.


The Difference

After my patients have gastric sleeve surgery, we provide them with lifetime resources to help them change their eating and exercise habits. So, if proper eating and exercise is the key to permanent weight loss, why did the surgical group do so much better than the non-surgical group? I’ve created more than 12,500 sleeves in the past 12 years, and I can tell you from experience that the advantage of gastric sleeve in the battle of deadly body fat can’t be overstated.


Not only does the surgery craft a smaller physical stomach—which means you can’t take in as much food anymore—but it removes much of the stomach area that produces ghrelin, which we call the “hunger” hormone. So you also feel less hungry overall. The physical and the hormonal changes from surgery, combined with improved nutrition and movement, deliver an arsenal of weapons in your fight for substantial, lasting weight loss.


The Caveat

There are a lot of bariatric surgeries out there. But there’s a reason I only perform gastric sleeve: It’s been shown to be a superstar in terms of both safety and effectiveness. Quite a few doctors, including one quoted in the article I mentioned above, aren’t fans of bariatric surgery. They’ve seen too many bariatric patients whose quality of life has diminished—only being able to eat soft foods or liquids, for example, for fear of vomiting or food getting caught in their throats.


And while it’s true that this can happen with some bariatric surgeries, it’s just not the case with gastric sleeve. The reason? Gastric sleeve leaves the intestines intact and doesn’t put any foreign objects into the body, so there’s no dumping syndrome or blockages. It’s you—just better able to control hunger and food quantity.


As the study concludes, bariatric surgery can be a life saver. But it should be the right one for you, since you’re the one who has to live with the reality of it. And as thousands of my patients can tell you, the reality of life after gastric sleeve is pretty darn good.