About Morbid Obesity
Obesity Health Risks
Appealing a Denial
Benefits and Risks of
Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery is a
serious undertaking. Before making a decision, talk to your
doctor about the following benefits and risks.
- Weight loss: Immediately following surgery,
most patients lose weight rapidly and continue to do so
until 18 to 24 months after the procedure. Although most
patients then start to regain some of their lost weight,
few regain it all.
- Obesity-related conditions improve: For
example, recent research has shown that in obese
patients with diabetes, bariatric surgery resulted in
better blood sugar control than medication. This held
true no matter what the person weighed before surgery,
or how much weight they were able to lose.
Risks and Side Effects
- Vomiting: This is a common risk of
restrictive surgery caused by the small stomach being
overly stretched by food particles that have not been
- Dumping syndrome: Caused by malabsorptive
surgery, this is when stomach contents move too rapidly
through the small intestine. Symptoms include nausea,
weakness, sweating, faintness and, occasionally,
diarrhea after eating, as well as the inability to eat
sweets without becoming extremely weak.
- 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.
- Complications: Some patients who have weight
loss operations require follow-up operations to correct
complications. Complications can 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).
- Gallstones: More than 1/3 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 6 months after surgery.
- Need to temporarily avoid pregnancy: Women of
childbearing age should avoid pregnancy until their
weight becomes stable because rapid weight loss and
nutritional deficiencies can harm a developing fetus.
- Side effects: These include nausea, vomiting,
bloating, diarrhea, excessive sweating, increased gas,
- Lifestyle changes: 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