Bariatric Weight-Loss Surgery

Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Surgery

Dr. Jason F. Moy
Dr. Brian T. Chin
Daniel Roman
February 19, 2024
Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, can have both benefits and complications. While it can significantly improve the quality of life and helps with significant weight loss in just a short time period, it can also lead to nutritional deficiencies and post-surgery complications in some cases.

Weight loss surgery is successful if the patient is committed to changing his/her lifestyle including diet, exercise, and mindset. In spite of the sacrifices and some short-term side effects associated with bariatric surgery, many patients say it was the best decision of their lives.

What are some advantages and disadvantages you must know before getting bariatric surgery? Let’s find out!

Pros of Weight Loss Surgery

Getting weight loss surgery can result in the following improvements in your life:

  • Increase lifespan - There have been some studies that indicate bariatric surgery may increase life expectancy, especially for those with severe obesity and related health conditions. Life expectancy may be affected by many factors, including the specific type of bariatric surgery, the patient's medical history, and how closely they adhere to the post-surgical lifestyle changes.
  • Cardiovascular disease - A person who is obese is more likely to suffer from heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. By lowering blood pressure and improving cholesterol levels, bariatric surgery can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Type 2 diabetes - Studies show that weight loss surgery can cause significant and sustained weight loss, which can improve blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. Diabetes remission has been found to be more effective with gastric bypass surgery and sleeve gastrectomy.
  • Respiratory problems - A number of respiratory diseases are associated with obesity, such as sleep apnea, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A person suffering from these conditions may struggle to breathe due to the excessive weight pressing on their lungs and airways. Surgical weight loss can result in significant and sustained weight loss, which can improve the patient's breathing, reduce sleep apnea symptoms, and improve lung function.
  • Improved self-image - Obesity can contribute to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness for a variety of reasons, including physical limitations. It can lead to negative body image and low self-esteem, resulting in depression and anxiety. Following bariatric surgery, the quality of life is improved, which can lead to improved mental health. Note that weight loss surgery alone isn't enough to treat pre-existing mental health conditions, so you should follow up with your mental health provider afterward.

Complications and Downsides of Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery can result in both short-term and long-term complications.

Short-term complications include:

  • Infection: The surgical site is susceptible to infection, as with any surgery. The infection can be treated with antibiotics.
  • Blood clots: Surgical procedures can cause blood clots to form in the legs or lungs, which if not treated immediately can pose a danger to the patient.
  • Anesthesia risks: There is always a risk of anesthesia-related reactions with any surgery requiring anesthesia. Some of the risks associated with anesthesia in bariatric surgery include airway complications, nausea, and allergic reactions.

Long-term complications can include the following:

  • Several obese individuals tend to overeat to distract themselves from stressors or to try to improve their mood. In such cases, if the pattern of stress eating persists after the surgery, the surgery won’t be successful. These issues cannot be resolved by weight loss surgery, and unrealistic expectations may lead to disappointment.

  • Since food passes quickly through the digestive tract, the patient's ability to absorb certain nutrients may be affected after the surgery. The result is a lack of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. To make up for these lost nutrients, patients undergoing weight loss surgery must take supplements every day and ensure they consume enough calories to exercise safely.
  • You might need to undergo multiple surgeries since in some cases, additional concerns after the treatment can arise. Depending on your needs, you may require additional surgeries for weight loss, sagging skin removal, medical concerns, or to lose weight regained after surgery.
  • Hernias are another possible downside for bariatric patients after their procedure. According to health factors and type of surgery, the risk of a hernia after bariatric surgery is anywhere between 5-25%. However, while bariatric surgery increases the risk for hernias, so does obesity. 

How to Make the Most of Your Weight Loss Surgery

After undergoing surgery, it's essential to commit to lifestyle changes that support your health and well-being to make the most of the surgery. This includes embracing a balanced and nutritious diet tailored to your specific needs. You can work closely with a dietitian who can help you develop a meal plan that promotes weight loss while ensuring you're getting the nutrients your body requires.

Regular physical activity is another key component of maximizing the benefits of weight loss surgery. It is essential to incorporate exercise into your daily routine to aid in weight loss as well as improve fitness levels and maintain muscle mass. Aim to engage in activities you enjoy and make exercise a priority in your life.

We also highly recommend following the postoperative guidelines provided by your healthcare team, which is crucial for a successful recovery and long-term success. This includes adhering to dietary recommendations, such as following the prescribed diet progression, portion sizes, and meal timing. It's also important to take any prescribed supplements, such as vitamins, minerals, and protein, to prevent nutritional deficiencies and support healing.

Make sure to attend follow-up appointments with your surgeon, dietitian, and other healthcare providers to monitor progress, address any concerns, and adjust treatment plans as needed. These appointments provide an opportunity to track your weight loss journey, address any challenges you may encounter, and receive ongoing support and guidance.

You can also consider building a strong support network after your surgery for emotional support. Engage with support groups or online communities where you can connect with others who have undergone similar experiences, share advice, and receive encouragement. Additionally, involving family and friends in your journey can provide invaluable support and motivation as you work towards your goals.

BASS Bariatric Surgery is here to help you with your weight loss issues. Get in touch with one of our specialists today. Our team will help you understand the best treatment options according to your condition.

About The Author

Daniel Roman, Content Writer

Daniel Roman is a Digital Content Writer at BASS Medical Group. He received his Masters in Journalism from UC Berkeley in 2021. Daniel has published multiple newspaper articles covering public health issues. His latest was a magazine cover story on pandemics and diseases that he co-wrote with Dr. Elena Conis, a historian of medicine, public health, and the environment.

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Is Bariatric Weight-Loss Surgery Right For You?

Dealing with obesity? You're in the right place! We've helped thousands of patients like you get the life they deserve using a safe and modern obesity weight-loss procedure known as bariatric surgery. Our surgeons specialize in bariatric weight-loss surgery and have treated patients from all over the country. We look forward to meeting you!
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