Weight loss surgery is major surgery. After losing weight most patients enjoy an improvement in obesity-related health conditions (such as mobility, self-image and self-esteem). The goal is to live better, healthier and longer.
Most non-surgical weight loss programs are based on some combination of diet/behavior modification and regular exercise. Unfortunately, even the most effective interventions have proven to be effective for only a small percentage of patients. It is estimated that less than 5% of individuals who participate in non-surgical weight loss programs will lose a significant amount of weight and maintain that loss for a long period of time.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 95% of all people in these programs regain their weight within one year. Sustained weight loss for patients who are morbidly obese is even harder to achieve. Serious health risks have been identified for people who move from diet to diet, subjecting their bodies to a severe and continuing cycle of weight loss and gain known as “yo-yo dieting.”
The fact remains that morbid obesity is a complex, multifactorial chronic disease. For many patients, the risk of death from not having the surgery is greater than the risks from the possible complications of having the procedure.
That is the key reason that in 2007, approximately 205,000 weight loss surgical procedures were performed in the United States. Patients who have had the procedure report improvements in their quality of life, social interactions, psychological well-being, employment opportunities, and economic condition.
You should make the decision to have weight loss surgery only after careful consideration and consultation with an experienced bariatric surgeon or a knowledgeable medical physician. A qualified surgeon should answer your questions clearly and explain the exact details of the procedure, the extent of the recovery period and the reality of the follow-up care that will be required. They may, as part of routine evaluation for weight loss surgery, require that you consult with a dietician/nutritionist and a psychiatrist/therapist. This is to help establish a clear understanding of the post-operative changes in behavior that are essential for long-term success.
It is important to remember that there are no ironclad guarantees in any kind of medicine or surgery. There can be unexpected outcomes in even the simplest procedures. What can be said, however, is that weight loss surgery will only succeed when the patient makes a lifelong commitment. Some of the challenges facing a person after weight loss surgery can be unexpected. Lifestyle changes can strain relationships within families and between married couples. To help patients achieve their goals and deal with the changes surgery and weight loss can bring, most bariatric surgeons offer follow-up care that includes support groups, dieticians and other forms of continuing education.
Ultimately, the decision to have the procedure is entirely up to you. After having heard all the information, you must decide if the benefits outweigh the side effects and potential complications. Weight loss surgery is only a tool. Your ultimate success depends on strict adherence to the recommended dietary, exercise and lifestyle changes.
Dr George Woodman has performed over 3000 weight loss surgical procedures for patients around the country including in and around the Memphis area, Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky, and eastern Tennessee. He is recognized as a member of the ASMBS and a Center of Excellence. Attend one of our free weight loss seminars to see if weight loss surgery is right for you.