Health

Losing Weight with Bariatric Surgery Explained

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Bariatric surgery, including gastric bypass, enable you to lose weight by limiting the amount of food you can consume, reducing your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, or both. These procedures are done when diet and exercise haven’t worked, or when complications from your weight have become a serious threat to your health. 

Gastric bypass is currently the most common form of bariatric surgery that is performed in the United States.  This is the preferred procedure of many surgeons because it carries a lower risk of complications that other surgical procedures designed to help with weight loss. 

But weight loss surgeries are still major procedures that pose serious health risks. They can have side effects. In addition, they warrant making permanent changes to your diet and lifestyle to ensure long-term success.

Why is bariatric surgery done?

In the majority of cases, gastric bypass and related bariatric surgeries are conducted to help you lose weight and reduce the risk of life-threatening health problems related to excess weight. These can include conditions such as heart disease, sleep apnea, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Bariatric surgery is usually considered a last resort. It may only be done after you’ve tried to lose weight through diet and exercise. 

Who is bariatric surgery for?

You might be a candidate for gastric bypass and other forms of bariatric surgery if you have a body mass index (BMI) above 40. If your BMI is between 35 and 39.9 and you have a serious weight-related health condition, such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes, you might also qualify. People with BMIs between 30 and 34 may also be considered for bypass surgery if weight-related health problems are serious and other measures have been taken to lose weight.

Bariatric surgery isn’t for everyone, though. Often, candidates must undergo a screening process and meet a set of medical guidelines in order to be considered for gastric bypass and other surgeries. Candidates must also make a commitment to a healthier lifestyle in the long-term. This may include a follow-up plan to monitor nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, and any related medical conditions you may have.

Bariatric surgery is costly. You should get in touch with your health insurance provider to find out potential coverage. Medicare or Medicaid can sometimes also cover the procedure, but you'll need to speak with your representative. 

What are the risks?

All major surgeries have risks. Bariatric surgery, which includes gastric bypass as well as other potential weight loss surgery, is no different. It is important to take the time to consider the short- and long-term risks that can be associated along with the procedure before you agree to it.

Some short-term risks of bariatric surgery can include:

  • Infection
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Leaks in the gastrointestinal system
  • Breathing and/or lung problems
  • Blood clots
  • In rare cases, death

Long-term risks associated with bariatric surgery vary according to the surgery. They may include:

  • Obstruction of bowels
  • Gallstones
  • Low blood sugar
  • Malnutrition
  • Hernias
  • Perforation of the stomach
  • Ulcers
  • Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  • In rare cases, death

Speak to your doctor in order to find out if bariatric surgery is a suitable option for controlling you weight.

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