Weight Loss Surgery: A Boon or a Bane?

Severe obesity is now a common and chronic problem through out the United States. According to the latest statistics revealed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 65 percent of all U.S. citizens are overweight. What is even more awful is that over 12.5 million children aged between 2 to 19 are also falling prey to this dreadful disease, according to the U.S Surgeon General.

Severe obesity, when it becomes morbid, it increases the risk of other medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and sometimes even a shortening of life span. Though there are many diet and exercise plans available in the market, these are seldom effective in treating obesity. Because of this the trend is going towards surgical procedures. More and more people are opting for weight loss or bariatric surgery which helps by restricting the amount of food intake (restrictive surgery) or interrupting the digestive process (malabsorptive surgery). There are both benefits and risks involved in these procedures.

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1. Effective Weight Loss

Patients lose weight rapidly immediately after the surgery and the process slowly continues until 18 to 24 months. Though some patients regain their weight to some extent, few regain it fully.

2. Improvement in other Medical Conditions

It has been observed that there is an overall improvement in other obesity-related conditions such as high blood pressure, sugar level etc. after the weight loss surgery.

After-effects of Bariatric Surgery:

1. Nutritional Deficiencies

Patients who have weight loss surgery may develop nutritional deficiencies such as anemia, osteoporosis, and metabolic bone disease. These deficiencies can be avoided if vitamin and mineral intakes are maintained.

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2. Gallstones

More than one-third of obese patients who have gastric surgery develop gallstones. Gallstones are clumps of cholesterol and other matter that form in the gallbladder. During rapid or substantial weight loss a person’s risk of developing gallstones increases. Sometimes this can be prevented by taking supplemental bile salts for the first six months after surgery.

3. Nausea and Vomiting

The common side effects that all the patients experience include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, dizziness and excessive sweating.

4. Postpone of Pregnancy

Women are advised to avoid pregnancy until their weight becomes stable because rapid weight loss and nutritional deficiencies can harm a developing fetus.

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5. Change in Lifestyle

Patients with extensive bypasses of the normal digestive process require not only close monitoring, but also life-long diet and exercise modifications and vitamin and mineral supplementation.

6. Other Complications

Some patients who have weight loss operations require follow-up operations to correct other complications. It may include abdominal hernias, infections, breakdown of the staple line (used to make the stomach smaller), and stretched stomach outlets (when the stomach returns to its normal size).

No doubt weight loss surgery is a serious undertaking and therefore it is essential to discuss all the pros and cons of it with your doctor before taking any decision.

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