Questions About Bariatric Surgery

Does Obesity Surgery Carry Health Risks?

Yes. Bariatric surgery is performed under general anesthesia, and carries all the usual risks of major surgery. Risk factors include: the condition of the patient (weight and co-morbid conditions), the skill of the bariatric surgeon and anesthesiologist and the quality of back-up services. Surveys show that premature death occurs in about 1 percent of cases.

What Are The Common Complications of Gastric Banding?

Gastric-banding may lead to a number of short-term post-operative health complications. About 10-20 percent of patients need more surgery to fix problems like abdominal hernias caused by excessive straining after surgery before the incision heals. About 1 percent of patients contract blood clots in the legs. On average, there is a 5 percent risk of infection in the incision area. Some patients experience band slippage and saline leakage.

What Are The Common Complications of Gastric Bypass?

Common complications of laparscopic gastric bypass include anastomotic leak, bowel obstruction and bleeding. Anastomotic leak – leakage from the newly created stomach pouch – typically affects 1.9 percent of patients, postoperative bleeding 1.1 percent of patients and bowel obstruction 2.5 percent. Other health complications associated with stomach bypass operations include problems such as: hernias, gallstones, and nutritional deficiency caused by inadequate absorption of vitamins and minerals.

Are You Saying That Bariatric Surgery Is Too Dangerous?

No. Simply that it is a serious operation, and – like any serious operation – it requires serious consideration. But above all, it’s important to understand the health risks of untreated morbid or super-obesity. For example, a 12-year health review of 330,000 obese men and 420,000 obese women, showed that premature mortality rates for morbidly obese men were twice the normal, and 500 percent higher for obese diabetics. For severely obese women, the risk of premature death was also twice the normal, while in obese women with diabetes the mortality risk increased eight fold. Other studies show that severely obese men aged 25-34 have a 1200 percent higher risk of dying prematurely, while those in the 35-44 year age group have a 600 percent higher risk.

Is Surgery An Easy Weight Loss Option?

No. Any bariatric surgeon will tell you that surgery cannot guarantee weight loss. It is merely an opportunity for you to adopt healthy eating habits and a healthy lifestyle. Trouble is, even though the surgeon can give you a new stomach and a new small intestine, he can’t give you a new attitude. Only you can do this. In a way, it’s a Catch-22 situation: obese patients choose surgery because they can’t follow a healthy diet and take regular exercise. Yet, this is exactly what they must do after surgery if they wish to lose weight.

What Tips Do You Have For Patients Considering Bariatric Surgery?

Be Realistic

First, you must be realistic in your expectations. Don’t see surgery as an easy answer: see it as an opportunity to change your lifestyle. It’s no good expecting your new digestive system to teach you how to eat. It is up to you to find the inner strength and commitment to change your dietary habits and to normalize your weight in the process. So, before making a firm decision, ask yourself how committed you really are.

Consult Other Patients

A good way of learning what to expect after your operation, is to talk to other patients who have undergone gastric bypass or lap-band. Most bariatric clinics are quite happy to refer you to successful patients, in order to help you prepare yourself for the experience ahead.

Make A Long Term Plan

Weight loss diets can be started and stopped whenever you like, but operations like gastric bypass are for ever. So take a long term view and make a long term plan of how you are going to manage your eating and exercise routines after surgery. How will you manage your social life and social eating? Will the members of your family support your new dietary regimen? How do you propose to combat your previous temptation to overeat? These are some of the questions for which you need answers.

Find Effective Support

All research shows that obesity surgery is more successful when proper support is available. The best bariatric centers typically offer excellent patient support, either via meetings or online services. Take full advantage of any support groups, chat rooms or online obesity forums. And avoid those clinics that don’t offer this kind of post-operative help.

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