Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Surgery

Medically Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on May 15, 2021

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.

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.

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:

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