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Obesity - Surgery

Surgery may be an option if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more. It may also be an option if you have a BMI of 35 and another health problem related to your weight, such as diabetes or arthritis.

Use the Interactive Tool: Is Your BMI Increasing Your Health Risks? calculator.gif to calculate your BMI.

Experts are still debating whether surgery for obesity is okay for children.

The goal of surgery is to cause significant weight loss. This should reduce obesity-related health problems, including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Surgery can help you lose weight in a couple of ways. Restrictive operations (such as adjustable gastric band ) reduce how much food you can eat by making the stomach smaller. Malabsorptive operations (such as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass) make it harder for your body to digest and absorb food.

It is important to remember that you may still be obese or overweight after the surgery. Also, surgery will require you to make extreme changes in how you eat, such as eating only a few ounces of food at a time because the surgery creates a much smaller stomach.

dplink.gif Obesity: Should I Have Weight-Loss Surgery?

Surgery choices

Nutrition concerns

After surgery, you will need to learn new ways to eat. You'll need to eat very slowly and chew your food well. You will not be able to drink for 30 minutes before eating, during your meal, and for 30 minutes after eating. If you don't make these changes, you may vomit frequently and have pain. You may also develop nutrition problems.

Your doctor may recommend calcium, iron, and vitamin supplements.

What to think about

All surgeries have risks. Discuss your treatment options with your doctor to decide what is best for you.

Most people who have surgery to treat obesity begin to lose weight quickly. Weight loss usually continues for about 2 years.

Risks common to all surgeries for weight loss include an infection in the incision, a leak from the stomach into the abdominal cavity or where the intestine is connected (resulting in an infection called peritonitis), and a blood clot that blocks blood flow in the lung (pulmonary embolism). Some people develop anemia or osteoporosis.

It is important to compare the risks of being obese with the risks of surgery.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 19, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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