What are the Benefits of Bariatric Surgery?
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For people who have trouble losing weight or keeping it off, bariatric surgery has long been a viable treatment when other weight loss methods have failed.
The three most common types of bariatric surgeries are:
Gastric sleeve surgery.
This procedure involves shrinking the size of the stomach permanently to reduce the amount of food that fits in your stomach and help you feel fuller sooner.
This surgery involves both reducing the size of the stomach and bypassing part of the small intestine. This both makes you feel fuller sooner and reduces the number of calories absorbed from food.
Adjustable gastric band.
This surgery also reduces the stomach size. This is accomplished with an adjustable band around the stomach rather than a surgical procedure. This surgery is performed less frequently due to the potential for more significant complications.
Reap the benefits of surgical weight loss.
Though some side effects can occur, these treatments are fairly safe and have many documented benefits, according to the National Institutes of Health. First, of course, is the ability of obese people to lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off. With this healthy weight, however, comes a variety of other substantial benefits, including:
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
- Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- Less risk of heart disease
- Fewer instances of sleep apnea
- Less body pain
These are just a few advantages of many that people see after bariatric surgery.
Researchers have noted these benefits in patients in the years after bariatric surgery.
But the question remained: Would the benefits last later in life, even decades after the procedure?
In recent years, we’ve got answers to this question from several studies, most notably one published in the New England Journal of Medicine in late 2017. This study examined the outcomes of gastric bypass surgery in a group of 418 patients 12 years after the procedure. As a control group, the researchers looked at the outcomes for more than 700 patients who did not receive the procedure.
The results of this extensive study were definitive: Patients who had received the gastric bypass procedure 12 years earlier had kept the weight off and had much better blood pressure levels, blood cholesterol, and fewer instances of type 2 diabetes.
Is bariatric surgery effective for teens?
In October 2022, Nestor De la Cruz Muñoz , M.D., chief of bariatric surgery for the University of Miami Health System, contributed to this research supporting bariatric surgery with a study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. This study examined bariatric surgery results in a group of 96 patients 10 to 18 years after their procedures. But the research had unique aspects that were a testament to the effectiveness of bariatric surgery.
“Our study was groundbreaking in a couple of ways,” says Dr. De la Cruz Muñoz. “For one, it was the first study that looked at results in people in their teens or early 20s when they had the procedure done.
“Second, our study was in patients who hadn’t been doing regular follow-ups. This showed that even without regular checkups, the procedures remained effective.”
Research shows the procedure to be safe and effective in suitable patients, says Dr. De la Cruz Muñoz.
With that in mind, he recommends that patients with severe obesity or difficulty losing weight through other methods speak with their health care provider about the proper treatment approach for them.
“If a patient meets the criteria, the data is clear that the health benefits outweigh the risks,” he says. “It’s the only proven long-term successful procedure to help with obesity.”
Wyatt Myers is a contributor to UHealth’s news service.