Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Surgery
Risks of Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery carries real risks. As many as 10% of people have complications afterward. Usually problems are only unpleasant or inconvenient, and might cause some pain and discomfort, or require additional surgeries, including:
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Wound infections
- Abdominal hernias
Serious complications do occur after weight loss surgery. Although rare -- happening about 3% of the time -- they can sometimes be life-threatening:
- Blood clot to the lungs (pulmonary embolism)
- Leaks in the new surgical gut connections
- Bleeding ulcers
- Heart attacks
About one in 400 people die from weight loss surgery complications in the first thirty days. The risk is higher for people over age 60. Having bariatric surgery at a center with very experienced surgeons reduces this risk.
Even after successful weight loss surgery, other problems are common:
- Gallstones, often requiring gallbladder removal
- Vitamin deficiencies or malnutrition, from poor absorption
- Excess skin, requiring surgical removal (body contouring)
After Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery should be the beginning of a new and healthy lifestyle. To make the most of the surgery and to maximize results, people need to:
Nearly all severely obese people have unhealthy eating habits. A common problem is "binge eating." After weight loss surgery, eating large amounts of food at one sitting can make you sick. For many people, learning to eat small, frequent meals is a challenge.
- Eat healthy and take vitamins
Eating junk food or neglecting to take vitamin supplements can cause serious malnutrition after weight loss surgery. This can cause bone disease, loss of muscle tone, and low blood counts (anemia).
Keeping weight off is far easier when a person is active and exercises. In addition, exercise reduces rates of many diseases, including cancer and heart disease. To maintain weight loss in the long term, exercise is essential.
Such profound changes in lifestyle don't happen automatically or easily for most. Many weight loss surgery centers offer behavioral counseling programs to help people make the transition into their new and healthy lifestyle after surgery.