Obesity is a major health crisis in America. For those who are obese, diet and exercise are often not enough. Weight loss surgery is often the best option.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that over a third of Americans are overweight or obese (BMI>30). This is a major health concern because obesity increases the risks of many diseases and health conditions such as: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, and bone degeneration.
For most people, diet and exercise are the mainstays of weight management. People who are tremendously overweight, however, may be candidates for weight loss surgery. In general, physicians recommend weight loss surgery for patients who are obese or have a BMI>40. This is equivalent to being about 100 pounds overweight for men and 80 pounds for women. People may also be considered if they have a lower BMI but also have a serious health condition related to obesity. Furthermore, patients should first try to lose weight through non-surgical means, such as diet and exercise, before going for weight loss surgery.
There are two major types of weight loss surgeries, gastric bypass surgery and gastric banding surgery. Each type has its benefits and risks.
Gastric Bypass Surgery
Weight loss with gastric bypass surgery is quick and dramatic. On average, patients lose 38% of their body weight in the first year. In addition, most people maintain their new weight for over 10 years, with an average weight loss of 25%. Because the loss is so fast, patients often have an improvement in weight-related health problems quickly.
Gastric bypass surgery, however, is the riskier option. Although generally safe, 10% of patients have minor complications and less than 5% have major complications. The risk of death is less than 1%. Gastric bypass surgery may also result in dumping syndrome, which occurs when food moves too quickly through the stomach. This can result in shaking, sweating, dizziness and diarrhea. Furthermore, gastric bypass surgery is irreversible.
Gastric Banding Surgery
Gastric banding surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that is performed laparoscopically. There are no incisions in the stomach and recovery is usually quicker than for gastric bypass surgery. A band is placed around the stomach which restricts its size and makes you feel fuller more quickly. The band can be tightened or loosened in your physician’s office and can also be reversed by surgically removing the band. Serious complications are uncommon, but the band can slip out of place.
The loss of weight after gastric banding surgery, though, is less dramatic. After the first year, patients, on average, lose 21% of their weight. You may also regain some weight over the years. The average decrease in weight after 10 years is about 13%.
For more information on weight loss surgery, check out GastricBypassExperts.com