Weight-Loss Surgery Helps You Gain Control of Serious Health Issues
By Samuel Wasser, MD—Virtua Bariatric and General Surgeon
When you visit the doctor, step on the scale, and are told that you’re obese, it hurts.
The word “obese” can feel offensive. To some, it’s a label that conjures images of a certain body size or weight or feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment.
But obese isn’t just a word, or a label, or a bodyweight.
Obesity is a disease—a real disease like heart disease or cancer—and more than 34% of adults in the U.S. are living with it. Like other real diseases, managing obesity requires proper diagnosis, treatment, and life-long maintenance.
To be diagnosed with obesity, you have to have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 to 39.9, or 40 and higher to be diagnosed with severe obesity. When you have a BMI of 35 or more, it becomes infinitely harder to lose weight through diet and exercise alone.
In addition, obesity puts you at risk for other diseases like diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, back pain, and joint issues. When you put all these health challenges together, they can seem insurmountable.
But, using the tool of bariatric surgery combined with proper support, people take on this seemingly insurmountable challenge and finally succeed at losing weight. Here are the ways, beyond weight loss, that bariatric surgery can change your life—and your health—for the better.
Obesity is a major cause of type 2 diabetes, and people who have severe obesity are 10 times more likely to have it. Bariatric surgery improves type 2 diabetes and resolves it in 80-95 percent of patients, depending on the bariatric procedure performed (for example, duodenal switch provides more powerful results than other procedures). In fact, some people experience an improvement in, or resolution of, type 2 diabetes by the time they’re home from surgery; others may see improvement more gradually. Other benefits include:
- Reduction in dosage and/or types of diabetes medications needed; in some cases, the elimination of diabetes medications
- Lower blood sugar
- Improvement in related health problems such as heart and coronary artery disease
Heart/coronary artery disease and high blood pressure
In addition to improving heart-related diabetes risks, the weight loss that comes with bariatric surgery can reduce the fat around the heart, leading to better heart health overall. Other benefits include:
- Improvement in cholesterol levels and reduction or elimination of cholesterol medications
- Lower blood pressure and reduction or elimination of blood pressure medication
- Lower risk for heart attack, heart failure, and stroke
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common, yet life-threatening, obesity-related sleep disorder that many people face. OSA occurs when the soft tissues in the airway narrow or close during sleep. Episodes of OSA can lead to sudden cardiac death, irregular heartbeat, or high blood pressure. OSA also is linked to an increased risk for diabetes and can make diabetes harder to control.
Bariatric surgery is shown to improve or resolve OSA in the majority of patients. As you lose weight, you lose the fatty tissue that causes the narrowing of the airway and breathing interruptions. However, some patients continue to use treatments like CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) to manage OSA.
Back, hip, and knee pain
Obesity puts a tremendous strain on your back, hips, and knees, leading to arthritis and back pain issues that can affect your quality of life and ability to exercise.
Weight loss from bariatric surgery helps physically relieve that strain and helps restore physical function. In addition, bariatric surgery is an effective solution for people with arthritis who need joint replacement but are required by insurance to lose weight before the surgery.
According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, large studies of hundreds of thousands of patients show that weight-loss surgery can lower a person’s risk of death from any cause by more than 40 percent.
Specifically, that means bariatric surgery lowers the risk of death as follows:
- Heart disease: 40% lower risk
- Diabetes: 92% lower risk
- Cancer: 60% lower risk
See how Virtua’s bariatric weight-loss team helps treat and manage obesity
If you’ve spent years struggling to lose weight through diet and exercise changes without success, it may be time to consider bariatric weight-loss surgery.
Virtua offers sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve), as well as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, duodenal switch, and modified duodenal switch (SADI-S), which are the most effective procedures for reducing obesity-related health risks.
You CAN succeed at weight loss after bariatric surgery, and Virtua provides the right team and tools needed to help you achieve a healthy lifestyle and lasting weight-loss success.
Learn more about Virtua’s bariatric weight-loss surgery program, or call 888-847-8823 to schedule a consultation with a Virtua bariatric surgeon.
Updated January 20, 2021