Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery is lifesaving for some people, taking off pounds that have hurt their health. But it's not right for everyone who has a lot of weight to lose.

If you're thinking about it, talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks, and whether it's a good idea for you.

Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery can help you shed a lot of pounds. That weight loss often leads to other health benefits.

Obesity-related medical conditions usually improve with this weight loss, sometimes to the point where medication is no longer needed, including:

After weight loss surgery, most people -- about 95% -- say their quality of life is better. Some studies also suggest people live longer after weight loss surgery, compared to equally obese people who don't get surgery.

Risks of Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery carries real risks. As many as 40% of people have complications afterward. These complications can occur soon after surgery or in the long term, and they vary based on the type of weight loss surgery you have. 

 While some complications are unpleasant or inconvenient, others may cause pain and discomfort or require additional surgeries, including:

  • Short-term complications: 
    • Wound infections
    • Excessive bleeding
    • Breathing problems
  • Long-term complications: 

Serious complications can happen, too. Those are rare, happening about 3% of the time. Some can be life-threatening:

The risk is higher for people over age 60. Having weight loss surgery at a center with very experienced surgeons reduces this risk.

Even after successful weight loss surgery, other problems are common:

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on May 14, 2019

Sources

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News release, Allergan.

Hedley, A. The Journal of the American Medical Association, June 16, 2004.

Rand, C. International Journal of Obesity, September 1991.

Virji, A. American Family Physician, April 15, 2006.

Brethauer, S. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, November 2006.

Buchwald, H. The Journal of the American Medical Association, Oct. 13, 2004.

American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery: "Rationale for the Surgical Treatment of Morbid Obesity." "Bariatric Surgery Procedures." "Benefits of Bariatric Surgery."

Collazo-Clavell, M. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, October 2006.

Shah, M. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2006.

Malinowski, S. The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, April 2006.

Mayo Clinic: "Bariatric Surgery." 

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Bariatric Surgery Side Effects."
 

 

 

 

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