Weight Loss Surgery, a Treatment Option?


Weight loss surgery is a new treatment in town where confidence has risen since there have been reports on improvement in outcomes and lower complications. Approximately a quarter of a million people undergo surgery to lose weight every year in the US. They pay for this procedure or they let their insurance companies pay for it.

Questions abound. Is it safe? Is it effective? Does it really help treat diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions linked to obesity? The medical community has a resounding response to these questions. And it is increasingly yes to all three. And no wonder for studies have shown bariatric procedure effective in treating and even getting rid of diabetes.

There have been endorsements from groups, making weight loss surgery an acceptable procedure. The American Society for Nutrition has given it a thumbs up. The Obesity Society has called it the most effective therapy for obesity. Even the American Diabetes Association has recommended it for the first time.


The aforementioned endorsements will only increase the number of this procedure done each year. There will be increased pressure in both the public and private insurance companies to cover the cost especially the latest studies have shown better outcome, lower complication and shorter hospital stay.

Still it must be remembered that bariatric surgery is a major procedure which is not for everybody. It is not for teens, children and adults who are not obese even though they are overweight. And also it is not the be-all and the end-all for getting rid of obesity in the country.

So what do most patients elect to do when they decide to undergo this weight loss surgery? Most go either for a gastric bypass or a gastric banding. Gastric bypass involves cutting and stapling the stomach whereas gastric banding involves placing an adjustable silicon ring in the top portion of the stomach.

Whichever is the chosen procedure, a smaller pouch is created for both. The idea is that a smaller pouch will take less food to fill it, thus the patients lose weight. It took time to get to the success this procedure is now enjoying from the 1960s when it was first performed to the 1990s when it has become safer.

What made it safer? The introduction of the laproscopic approach in the 1990s did it. Instead of a large incision, this approach uses several smaller incisions in the abdomen. Then during the first decade of 2000s, the adjustable gastric bands were introduced.

So, should one have it done? There are some concerns that you have to consider.

  • Medicare only covers this procedure for people who are severely obese. These are for those who have a body mass index of 35 and higher. They also must have a condition associated with obesity like diabetes.
  • In addition to the BMI requirement, they also have to meet the age requirement.
  • Moreover, they must have participated in a weight loss program directed by a physician for six months within the last two years.
  • The weight loss surgery is expensive costing around $27,000 and $17,000 for the gastric band procedure.
  • After the procedure, some have dietary restrictions and some have nausea with certain foods.
  • Bariatric patients can regain some of the weight back like from 38% reduction in weight after one year decreased to 25% reduction after 10 years.
  • Some can suffer from mineral and vitamin deficiency if they are not careful with their choice of food.

That said, there are benefits:

  • One patient only takes one medication instead of five for diabetes after the procedure. And she no longer has trouble sleeping.
  • The reduction in weight loss after ten years is offset by the improvement in conditions like diabetes.
  • The operation will pay for itself in two to three years, so did some studies find due to cost reduction in other conditions associated with obesity.

How about losing weight through diet and exercise? Is that still an option? Certainly. Studies have shown that losing weight through diet and exercise works especially when patients participate in a structured program that is medically supervised.

So you see, surgery is not the only option. In fact it will not all by itself solve the problem of obesity in this country for it is just a tool. It should be a part of a comprehensive program where kids are taught the way to eat healthy and exercise to manage their weight where one of the options is weight loss surgery.

Weight Loss Surgery, Its Success is Up to You It will change the digestive system that can limit the food consumption leading to weight loss and lower risk of medical problems related to obesity.

Many opt for gastric bypass surgery because it has fewer complications and can lead to long term weight loss if one eats healthy and exercises. It is not for all and it has side effects and risks so understand all about it before diving in.

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