Surgery For Obese Patients
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Surgery For Obese Patients
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Questions About Obesity Surgery

Who Qualifies For Weight Loss Surgery?

Obesity operations are available to any adult with a body mass index (BMI) of 35+, who has serious weight-related illness or mobility problems. That said, many obesity clinics screen patients, preferring those who are prepared to make the necessary long term commitment to healthy eating. In addition, some bariatric surgeries are performed on severely overweight adolescents and teenagers.

How Many Operations Are Performed?

Against a background of widespread obesity among all US age-groups, doctors are increasingly resorting to surgery to curb the rise of weight-related disease. Approximately 170,000 weight loss surgeries were performed in 2005. The average bariatric surgery patient is a woman in her late 30s who weighs approximately 300 pounds.

How Does Obesity Surgery Work?

The idea behind weight loss surgery is simple. The surgeon reduces the size of your stomach in order to make it very difficult for you to eat much food at one sitting, without suffering uncomfortable side effects. As a result, you eat fewer calories. In gastric bypass operations, part of the intestinal tract into which food passes from the stomach is bypassed. This reduces calorie intake even more.

What Are The Main Types Of Obesity Surgery?

The two most popular types of weight loss surgery are gastric banding and gastric bypass. Gastric banding operations (eg. lap-band) merely reduce stomach size. Gastric bypass surgeries (eg. roux-en-Y) reduce stomach size AND shorten the functional length of the small intestine so that less food is absorbed after it leaves the stomach. Gastric bypass typically leads to greater weight loss than banding.

What Is Laparoscopic Surgery?

Laparascopic obesity surgery is performed using instruments connected to a video screen. This surgical method allows the surgeon to "see inside" the body and view the area of operation without having to make large incisions. Laparoscope-assisted surgery is considered safer than traditional "open" surgeries, as it leads to less trauma and a reduced risk of infection. Patients tend to recover quicker after this type of surgery. Both gastric banding and gastric bypass can now be performed using laparascopic techniques.

Does Obesity Surgery Lead To A Significant Loss of Weight?

Yes. According to most patient-surveys, the weight loss results of gastric reduction surgery are much more spectacular than other treatment methods. For example, a study of over 500 bariatric operations performed at the Bariatric Institute of Wisconsin (2001-2004) revealed that patients achieved a mean weight loss of 79%, three years after having laparscopic gastric bypass surgery. According to the authors, there was a 99 percent success rate among patients with morbid obesity (BMI > 40), and a 98 percent success rate among those suffering from super-obesity (BMI > 50).

Do All Patients Benefit From Obesity Surgery?

Statistics indicate that weight loss surgery is not successful for perhaps half of all patients. The main reason for this is lack of patient compliance with post-operative guidelines on eating and exercise. If after their operation patients eat and exercise as instructed, they tend to lose a large amount of weight without regain. If they "cheat", they tend to regain most of the weight loss and may end up in a worse condition than before.

Does Obesity Surgery Lead To Significant Health Benefits?

Yes. Research shows that gastric reduction surgery lengthens patient lifespan and reduces the risk of many types of disease. For example, high blood pressure (hypertension) is cured in about half of all patients, while blood fat and cholesterol levels are reduced in most patients, all leading to a reduction in the risk of heart disease. Type 2 diabetes is cured in 8 out of 10 diabetic patients. Obstructive sleep apnea is cured in about 75 percent of patients, shortness of breath is relieved in 75-80 percent of cases, while asthma attacks are significantly reduced. Weight loss surgery also improves arthritis, back pain, heartburn, urinary incontinence, and lower limb venous disorders.

Next: See more Questions About Bariatric Surgery


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