Weight Loss Surgery for Obesity
Bariatric surgery as a quick fix for obesity in men
Weight loss surgery: Band versus bypass continued...
Gastric banding is the safer of the two weight loss surgeries. The operation
is typically performed as "belly-button surgery," performed through a small
opening in the abdomen, a procedure called laparoscopic surgery. Unfortunately,
for severely obese patients the results are often disappointing. "After gastric
banding, weight loss is typically slow, and many patients end up losing only a
relatively small percentage of body weight," explains Livingston. Because the
pouch that's formed by inserting the band can expand if people eat too much
food, some patients end up regaining the weight they've lost.
Gastric bypass surgery, on the other hand, is more complicated and carries
more risks, including infection, blood clots, and leakage where the stomach and
intestine are surgically connected. Because the surgery interferes with
absorption, especially of calcium and iron, there is also a lifetime risk of
anemia and other nutritional deficiencies.
But bypass surgery is far more effective than banding. Studies show that
obese patients can expect to lose up to 2/3 of their body weight. Weight loss
usually occurs rapidly. And gastric bypass patients are much more likely than
those receiving gastric bands to keep the weight off.
Obesity-related medical problems also vanish with surprising speed. "In
diabetic patients, signs of diabetes often resolve immediately after surgery,"
says Livingston. High blood pressure and high cholesterol improve dramatically.
Hip and knee pain are dramatically eased as weight is reduced. Sleep apnea,
another serious health risk associated with obesity, also resolves as patients
lose fat from around their necks, says Livingston.
A 2007 study by physicians at St. Elizabeth Health Center and Northeastern
Ohio Universities College of Medicine bears him out. The researchers followed
400 patients who had undergone gastric bypass surgery. High blood pressure,
cholesterol, diabetes, sleep apnea, asthma, and reflux disease had improved or
completely resolved in 80% to 100% of these patients after an average of a
year. Arthritis, back and joint pain, and depression also had improved,
although not as dramatically.
Choosing weight loss surgery
An estimated 5% of the adult U.S. population is severely obese, with a BMI
over 40. Far more than that are obese or severely overweight and suffer risk
factors associated with excess body weight. Many could benefit from bariatric