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Bariatric Program

Benefits of Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery, combined with commitment to your diet and exercise plan, can have a significant impact on your life. It can provide physical changes and increase your overall quality of life.

You may also experience a reduction in health problems, such as diabetes, arthritis and sleep apnea.

The benefits of bariatric and metabolic surgery are many.

Understanding the Benefits

Overall Benefits

If you're interested in bariatric surgery, here are some benefits to consider:

Better Quality of Life

When you lose a significant amount of weight, you’ll also notice a change in your ability to move more. You may even find yourself enjoying activities you used to love, such as walking, biking, swimming or gardening. This increase in physical activity increases oxygen flow throughout your body and helps you:

  • Burn more fat, and prevent fat storage
  • Reduce insulin levels for efficient sugar regulation
  • Calm stress hormones (cortisol) to relieve anxiety and depression

As you make social connections and become more engaged at work, you may feel you have a new lease on life. When you look good and feel good, your quality of life improves.

Decreased Mortality Rate

Obesity increases your risk of developing certain serious conditions that can lead to death, including diabetes, heart disease and breathing disorders. 

But studies show that losing weight with bariatric surgery significantly decreases your risk of dying from an obesity-related condition (metabolic syndrome). That’s because losing 40-70% of excess weight within 1-2 years after your surgery can help improve or in some cases completely resolve life-threatening conditions.

Permanent Weight Loss

If you undergo bariatric surgery, you may lose 40 to 70 percent of excess weight in the 12 to 14 months after surgery. With a commitment to exercise and dietary changes, you may maintain that weight loss for a lifetime.

Fewer Medications

Significant weight loss improves or resolves chronic conditions such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes and arthritis. In some cases, you may no longer need to take medication to manage these conditions.

Talk with your doctor before adjusting or stopping any medication.

Reduced Cancer Risk

Obesity is linked to an increased risk of developing cancers such as ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. If you do develop cancer, obesity also increases the chance that you will die from it.

Minimally Invasive Options

Gastric sleeve, also called sleeve gastrectomy, is performed laparoscopically. The surgeon makes a few small incisions, then inserts a small camera (laparoscope) and surgical instruments through the incisions to perform the surgery. Minimally invasive surgery results in less pain and faster recovery.

Benefits Related to Conditions

Weight-loss surgery may improve many obesity-related health conditions, including:

Diabetes

You may be able to cut your diabetes medicines in half, or stop taking them altogether in the first few months following surgery. This is because weight loss can make it easier to control blood sugar levels. The exception is insulin-dependent patients, who will most likely need to continue with medication.

High Blood Pressure

More than 84 percent of patients who undergo weight-loss surgery and stick to their long-term plan reduce or completely eliminate the need for hypertension medicine.

Arthritis Pain in Weight-Bearing Joints

Excess weight on joints like knees or ankles intensifies arthritis pain. Healthy weight loss reduces the pressure imposed on weight-bearing joints and helps alleviate the pain associated with arthritis.

Sleep Apnea

Your neck, throat and upper body will likely be the first areas to show improvement during healthy weight loss. As a result, your airway opens up, breathing improves and you may sleep better.

If you use a CPAP machine for your sleep apnea, you will need to continue with it initially. However, many patients experience reduced or eliminated need for the CPAP machine within the first months after surgery.

Your pulmonologist will talk to you about if and when it is safe for you to discontinue your CPAP machine.

Heartburn

Bariatric surgery greatly reduces the amount of stomach acid that can reach the esophagus. This reduces and often eliminates occurrences of heartburn.

Female Hormone Balance

Infertility and menstrual cycle irregularities are often linked to excess weight. In some cases, menstruation stops altogether. With healthy weight loss, hormones can become balanced again, leading to a normal menstrual cycle and possibly increased fertility.

It is recommended to avoid getting pregnant for 12 to 18 months after bariatric surgery.

Depression

If you're taking medicine for your depression, do not stop taking it. Review all of your medicines with your weight-loss team prior to your procedure, and while you’re in the hospital.

Incontinence Due to Urinary Stress

Weight loss reduces the stress on the urinary tract. As a result, incontinence can improve or stop entirely. Most see improvement within a few months following surgery.


 

Page medically reviewed by:
Eric J. Velazquez, MD, FACS, FASMBS
November 25, 2019