To very overweight Americans, bariatric surgery can be a life-saving decision
By David Buice
For many, a healthy diet and routine, dedicated exercise is usually sufficient to help shed a few unwanted extra pounds. But unfortunately there are still far too many Americans who are either overweight or obese. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an estimated 160 million Americans are overweight or obese, including nearly 75 percent of American men and over 60 percent of American women.
In consideration of the frequent failure of traditional weight loss strategies, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over a decade ago recognized bariatric weight loss surgery as the only effective treatment to successfully ensure long term weight loss for the severely obese.
Who Is It For?
By 2017, bariatric surgeons in the United States were performing over a quarter-million procedures a year. Likely candidates include people who:
Are more than 100 pounds over your ideal body weight.
Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40.
Have a BMI over 35 and are experiencing obesity related conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.
Are unable to achieve a healthy body weight even under medically-supervised dieting.
The Benefits of Bariatric Surgery
For those who are best served by bariatric weight loss surgery, the benefits can be truly life altering.
Long term weight loss – Most studies have concluded that more than 90 percent of those affected by severe obesity are able to maintain 50 percent or more of their surgically-related weight loss.
Remission from type 2 diabetes –
A Cleveland Clinic study established that almost all obese patients with type 2 diabetes were able to remain free of insulin and other medications for at least three years.
Improved cardiovascular health – Bariatric surgery reduces the risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral heart disease.
Depression relief – Many obese individuals feel depressed because of a poor body image or social stigma, and losing excess weight can improve their emotional health.
Elimination of sleep apnea – Weight loss often allows people with sleep apnea to stop using their CPAP machine at night.
Joint pain relief – Weight loss relieves stress on joints and often allows people to stop using pain medications and enjoy more mobility.
Improved fertility – The surgery often improves fertility during the childbearing years.
Alleviates other health problems – The surgery can alleviate metabolic syndrome, pregnancy problems, and gallbladder disease, among others.
As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications, but Dr. Philip Schauer, Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, insists these are no greater than for knee or gall bladder surgery. And when performed by a knowledgeable and experienced team, the surgery is not only safe—but can completely transform people’s lives.