Weight loss surgery is often a desperate last attempt, undertaken only after traditional dieting and exercise have failed. The guidelines for weight loss surgery require that you have a body mass index (BMI) over 40, with more than 100 lbs. to lose or a BMI over 35, as well as a health condition exacerbated by obesity, like Type 2 Diabetes, according to Glamour magazine. General anesthesia comes with a substantial risk, in and of itself, but the long-term health implications of weight loss surgery cannot be overlooked.
Several types of weight loss surgery are available. Some restrict the size of the stomach, like the lap-band procedure, while others alter the way the body absorbs food. The most common type of weight loss surgery–gastric bypass–combines both options by creating a smaller stomach pouch and bypassing a portion of the small intestine. Surgical methodologies vary, but most weight loss surgeries are done with laparoscopic techniques.
Weight loss surgery is used when traditional dieting techniques have failed or when clear health considerations make rapid weight loss critical. Typically, patients will lose 50 to 75 percent of their excess weight in the first six months; weight loss continues for as long as two years after surgery. Gastric bypass is the most invasive and most effective form of weight loss surgery, resulting in rapid loss; however, it is irreversible according to the Web MD website.
Common significant side effects of weight loss surgery include gallstones, hernias, osteoporosis and anemia, according to the International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA). While rates of death from these surgical procedures are typically reported as 1 out of 200, in 2005, “U.S. News and World Report” reported that mortality rates in the 90 days after surgery were around 7 percent for individuals over 65. An inexperienced surgeon increased the risk of death to 14 percent.
Weight loss surgery is referred to by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as induced bulimia, according to the International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA). Lap band surgeries reduce the size of the stomach and slow the speed at which it empties. Eating more than 1/2 to 1 cup of food is apt to cause nausea, vomiting and a feeling of uncomfortable fullness. Gastric bypass causes significantly more uncomfortable long-term issues, according to the Web MD website. Food may pass into the intestine without being digested; diarrhea, bloating, weakness, nausea and vomiting are all commonplace.
Surgical solutions to obesity may seem like the ideal solution to a common problem; however, the risks are high, especially if you are over 65. Consider whether the benefits outweigh the risks and explore other weight loss options before choosing surgery. If health conditions place you at serious risk, it may be worth taking the chance and accepting the side effects; however, do be certain your surgeon is experienced and competent to reduce the risk of serious complications.