Q: I have always struggled with my weight, and I want a solution that allows me to enjoy activities with my family. How do I know if bariatric surgery is right for me?
A: While bariatric surgery is not the solution for everyone, those who are candidates can greatly benefit from this type of procedure. Anyone who has a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater qualifies for the surgery, but those who have a BMI between 40 and 35 along with comorbid conditions are also generally considered candidates.
Comorbid conditions include hypertension, sleep apnea, coronary artery disease, cancer, joint pain, and diabetes. Bariatric surgery can be extremely beneficial to people with those conditions, because the reduction of weight tends to assist in treatment, improving both their health and quality of life.
Patients who require excessive weight loss may find they are limited in some areas of their life, like lifestyle and fertility.
These limitations can lead to psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression, which can cause them to gain more weight. Bariatric surgery can help patients defeat that cycle.
Though many seek bariatric surgery to treat comorbid conditions, patients can take charge of their weight-loss journey by electing to have the surgery before developing these conditions.
Anyone who wants to lose weight should first speak to their primary care physician to discuss their options. In most cases, people considering bariatric surgery have already tried dieting, exercising, and even medication to lose weight. If you have tried these tactics and have either gained the weight back or still have anywhere from 80 to 100 pounds to lose, your doctor will likely refer you to a bariatric surgeon. Bariatric surgery is proven to help patients lose up to 70 percent of excess weight within the first year.
Bariatric surgery used to have a reputation as having a high risk for complications. While every surgery has its risks, the advancement in technology such as laparoscopy and new stapling techniques has allowed the rate of complications from this surgery to decrease to less than .01 percent. Even if complications do occur, doctors are prepared to care for them quickly and efficiently.
Carey Brown, MD
Kettering Health Network