Bariatric surgery is a gastrointestinal surgery for obesity. This is not a cosmetic procedure, it is an option for persons who are severely obese and cannot lose weight by traditional means or who have serious obesity-related health problems. The surgery promotes weight loss by restricting food intake and, in some cases, interrupting the digestive process.
If you are thinking about bariatric surgery and are having doubts about whether it is right for you, you’re not alone. Bariatric surgery is a life-changing procedure, and making that decision requires knowledge. Our goal is to support you with valuable, accurate information about bariatric surgery; we want you to know the facts.
Bariatric surgery continues to benefit people struggling with morbid obesity worldwide. It is a preventative intervention that interrupts the co-morbid disease processes from their end-stage, life-threatening effects. Thus, bariatric surgery saves lives. Recent studies show that bariatric surgery patients are living longer lives than morbidly obese individuals. Hence the true risks of weight loss surgery are in being morbidly obese and doing nothing at all.
If traditional weight loss methods have not worked, weight loss surgery may be the right answer for you.
Body mass index, or BMI, is a calculation of total body fat based on your height and weight. It is used to determine whether you are underweight, overweight or at a healthy weight. A high BMI can alert you to potential health risks associated with your weight, such as type-2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease.
BMI calculations do not take into account factors such as muscle mass and pregnancy. Measuring waist circumference indicates the amount of abdominal fat you have, and can help you and your doctor more accurately assess how much of your weight is fat. Men with a waist measurement exceeding 40 inches are considered at risk. Women are at risk with a waist measurement of 35 inches or greater.
Morbid obesity is recognized as a lifelong chronic disease by the medical community and is associated with many other diseases and conditions, known as co-morbidities. Studies show that weight loss is important in effectively improving or resolving existing conditions or preventing future health problems.
Bariatric surgery can effectively improve and resolve many weight-related health conditions such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Dyslipidemia/high cholesterol
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Heart disease
- Osteoarthritis of weight-bearing joints
- Joint pain
- Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
- Urinary stress incontinence
- Asthma and pulmonary conditions
- Reproductive health
Co-morbidities can be expensive to treat and are frequently significantly damaging to an individual’s physical and mental health. Weight loss has been shown to provide both socioeconomic and psychological benefits.
Side Effects, Risks and Complications
As with any surgery, there are immediate and long-term complications and risks. Possible risks and side effects can include, but are not limited to:
- Complications due to anesthesia and medications
- Pulmonary Emboli (PE) and Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Dehiscence (separation of areas that are stitched or stapled together)
- Leaks from staple lines
- Marginal ulcers (smokers)
- Pulmonary problems
- Spleen injury
- Stenosis (narrowing)
- Death (mostly attributed to PE and leaks)
- Dumping syndrome (normal physiology)
- Nutritional deficiencies
Who Qualifies For Weight Loss Surgery?
- You are at least 18 years old
- Your BMI is 40 or higher or at least 35 with obesity related co-morbid conditions
- You have been overweight for more than 5 years
- Your serious attempts to lose weight have had only short-term success
- You are prepared to make major changes in your eating habits and lifestyle
- You do not drink alcohol in excess
Why Would You Have An Open Procedure?
In some patients, the laparoscopic, or minimally invasive, approach to surgery cannot be used. Here are reasons why you may have an open procedure, or that may lead Dr. Morris to switch during the procedure from laparoscopic to open:
- Prior abdominal surgery that has caused dense scar tissue
- Inability to see organs
- Bleeding problems during the operation
The following forms can be downloaded to your computer and printed at home. By filling out these forms ahead of time, you will save a significant amount of time during your visit. Please be prepared to provide this information to our office along with your current medical insurance information. If you have any questions when filling out these forms, please do the best you can and our staff will assist you with your questions on the day of your visit.
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Useful Links for Patients
- American Diabetes Association® www.diabetes.org
- American Dietetic Association www.eatright.org
- American Heart Association® www.americanheart.org
- American Society of Bariatric Physicians www.asbp.org
- Bariatics 4 Diabetes www.bariatrics4diabetes.com
- Celebrate Vitamins www.celebratevitamins.com
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov
- Choose My Plate www.choosemyplate.gov
- International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders www.ifso.com
- Lap-Band® www.lapband.com
- My Calorie Counter www.my-calorie-counter.com
- National Eating Disorders Association www.edap.org
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute www.nhlbi.nih.gov
- National Institutes of Health www.health.nih.gov/topic/Obesity
- North American Association for the Study of Obesity: the Obesity Society www.obesity.org
- Obesity Action Coalition www.obesityaction.org
- Overeaters Anonymous® www.oa.org
- Realize™ Band www.realize.com
- Shape Up America! www.shapeup.org
- Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases www.soard.org
- TOPS® Club www.tops.org
- WebMD® www.webmd.com
- Weight Loss Surgery Channel www.weightlosssurgerychannel.com
- Weight-control Information Network www.win.niddk.nih.gov