Bariatric surgery or continue living with weight related health issues? Most are nervous about having surgery but the reality is that the benefits far exceed the risk of any surgery itself. While the surgery does carry a risk, like any surgical procedure, we have found that the benefits it provides reduces complications from weight related health issues.
Benefits of Bariatric Surgery
1. Significant Weight Loss: Bariatric surgery has been proven to be effective in achieving significant weight loss, leading to improvements in overall health and quality of life (1). Patients undergoing these procedures often experience a reduction in obesity-related comorbidities, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and sleep apnea (2).
2. Improved Cardiovascular Health: Bariatric surgery has been linked to improved cardiovascular health, with patients experiencing reductions in blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels (3).
3. Remission of Type 2 Diabetes: Bariatric surgery has been shown to lead to the remission of type 2 diabetes in a significant number of patients, often within days after the procedure (4).
Potential Surgical Complications
As with any major surgery, bariatric surgery carries the risk of complications. Although they are rare, with approximately less than 1% complication rate, the benefit of having surgery far exceeds the risk of living with health related issues.
1. Surgical risks may include bleeding, infection, blood clots, leaks in the gastrointestinal system, and adverse reactions to anesthesia (5).
2. Nutrient Deficiencies: Some bariatric procedures may limit the absorption of nutrients, leading to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. Patients are often required to follow a strict diet and take supplements to prevent these deficiencies (6).
Risks of Living with Weight Related Health Issues
Taking into consideration the relatively low risk for weight loss surgery, here are some risks of living with weight related health issues.
High Blood Pressure:
1. Heart attack and stroke: Hypertension can damage arteries, leading to the formation of plaques and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
2. Heart failure: High blood pressure can weaken the heart muscle, making it less efficient at pumping blood and potentially leading to heart failure.
3. Kidney damage: Hypertension can damage the blood vessels in the kidneys, impairing their function and leading to kidney disease or failure.
4. Vision loss: High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in the eyes, potentially leading to vision loss.
5. Cognitive decline: Studies have shown that hypertension can increase the risk of cognitive decline, including dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Type 2 Diabetes:
1. Cardiovascular complications: People with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing heart disease, including conditions such as coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and strokes. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels over time, leading to atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) and increased risk of cardiovascular problems.
2. Kidney damage: Diabetes can affect the filtering function of the kidneys, leading to diabetic nephropathy. If left untreated, this condition can progress to kidney failure, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant.
3. Eye problems: Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, leading to a condition called diabetic retinopathy. It can result in vision problems and, if left untreated, may lead to blindness. People with diabetes are also at a higher risk of developing other eye conditions like cataracts and glaucoma.
4. Nerve damage: Elevated blood sugar levels can damage the nerves in the body, a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. It can cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or pain in the extremities, digestive problems, and sexual dysfunction.
5. Foot complications: Nerve damage and poor circulation associated with diabetes can lead to foot problems. Minor injuries or infections can become serious and difficult to heal, potentially leading to foot ulcers and even amputation in severe cases.
6. Increased susceptibility to infections: High blood sugar levels can weaken the immune system, making individuals with diabetes more susceptible to infections, particularly urinary tract infections, skin infections, and yeast infections.
7. Slow wound healing: Poor circulation and compromised immune function can impair the body's ability to heal wounds. Even minor cuts or sores may take longer to heal, increasing the risk of infections.
8. Increased risk of other health conditions: Type 2 diabetes is associated with an increased risk of other health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, certain types of cancer (such as colon, breast, and liver), and Alzheimer's disease.
1. Daytime fatigue: Frequent awakenings during the night can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, making it difficult to stay alert and focused during the day. This can affect work performance, daily activities, and increase the risk of accidents.
2. Cardiovascular problems: Sleep apnea has been linked to a higher risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), heart attack, stroke, and abnormal heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation. These conditions can be life-threatening if not properly managed.
3. Type 2 diabetes: Sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
4. Metabolic syndrome: This cluster of conditions, including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels, can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
5. Complications with medications and surgery: Sleep apnea can cause complications with certain medications, such as sedatives and anesthesia. It can also increase the risk of complications during and after surgery, particularly when it comes to procedures involving the upper airway.
6. Liver problems: People with sleep apnea are more likely to have abnormal liver function tests, indicating potential liver damage.
7. Sleep-deprived partners: Loud snoring, a common symptom of sleep apnea, can disturb the sleep of those sharing a bed with the affected individual, leading to sleep deprivation and relationship strain.
8. Cognitive and mood issues: Untreated sleep apnea can contribute to difficulties with concentration, memory, and decision-making. It is also associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and irritability.
9. Accidents: Due to excessive daytime sleepiness, people with sleep apnea are at a higher risk of workplace accidents and motor vehicle crashes.
The bottom line is, the risk of having weight loss surgery is very low when comparing living with weight related health issues and a host of complications that they provoke.
*If you're interested in having your own weight loss surgery, or know someone who does, we offer options such as Gastric Sleeve, Gastric Bypass or Metabolic Surgery for Diabetes. Please call us directly at 1-800-215-6497 and we'll be happy to provide you with more information.
(1) American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). (2021). Benefits of Bariatric Surgery. Retrieved from https://asmbs.org/patients/benefits-of-bariatric-surgery
(2) Schauer, P. R., Bhatt, D. L., Kirwan, J. P., et al. (2017). Bariatric Surgery versus Intensive Medical Therapy for Diabetes — 5-Year Outcomes. New England Journal of Medicine, 376(7), 641–651. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa1600869
(3) Vest, A. R., Heneghan, H. M., Agarwal, S., Schauer, P. R., & Young, J. B. (2012). Bariatric surgery and cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review. Heart, 98(24), 1763–1777.
(4) Purnell, J. Q., Selzer, F., Wahed, A. S., et al. (2016). Type 2 Diabetes Remission Rates After Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass and Gastric Banding: Results of the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery Study. Diabetes Care, 39(7), 1101–1107.
(5) Mayo Clinic. (2021). Bariatric Surgery. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/bariatric-surgery/about/pac-20394258
(6) Parrott, J., Frank, L., Rabena, R., Craggs-Dino, L., Isom, K. A., & Greiman, L. (2017). American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Integrated Health Nutritional Guidelines for the Surgical Weight Loss Patient