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Email Us: info@wellwellusa.com

Cutting Into Weight Loss Surgery

These Operations Are Not Quick Fixes

Maintaining long-term weight loss with surgery.

By John Hand –

America has a big, fat obesity problem. Unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, medications and genetics have led two in five adults and one in five children to become obese. Five years ago, approximately 260,000 patients turned to weight-loss bariatric surgery to trim their problems, GoodRx Health reports. Three years later, that number jumped almost 20,000 higher to 279,000 operations. 

Bariatric surgery is an extreme approach to weight loss and comes with a long list of stereotypes. Some see it as a quick fix, while others view it as cosmetic or drastic, almost unnatural. The truth is that bariatric surgery is not a one-stop fix for obesity. Success demands more than the initial operation. It requires a commitment to a healthy lifestyle to maintain long-term weight loss. 

Ultimately, it is not for everyone, no matter what a person’s weight. Candidates for bariatric surgery have a body mass index (BMI) over 40 or a BMI of 35-39.9 with one or two obesity-related diseases. Once cleared, there are several different ways to conduct weight loss surgery.

The most popular approach right now is sleeve gastrectomy or gastric sleeve, according to Columbia Surgery. This procedure involves about 80 percent of the stomach being removed to reduce the amount of food that a person consumes. This weight loss surgery is common because it comes with the least amount of risk. 

Another option is a gastric bypass, which reduces the stomach size and reconnects the small intestine to the stomach. This approach allows someone to get full faster and reduces the amount of calories the small intestine can absorb. The last type of surgery uses a lap band, which constricts the stomach to limit the amount of food absorbed.

All three surgery variations are designed to confront a person’s inherent but powerful resistance to weight loss.

“The truth is our bodies are designed to resist starvation, but they’re not designed to lose weight,” Dr. Erik Dutson told Men’s Health. “Diet and exercise are critical to a healthy lifestyle, but when you look at the statistics and meta-analyses, we have gone back many years, you find 98 percent of patients who lose weight through diet and exercise gain it back within six months.”

The Mayo Clinic offers hope for those undergoing bariatric surgery, especially compared to other dieting approaches. In fact, it reports these individuals will see at least 50 percent of the weight they’ve lost stay off. The caveat, of course, is they must commit to a healthy lifestyle, which is often a challenge for people struggling with food addiction. 

Among other things, the amount and kind of food consumed must change after any bariatric operation to achieve sustained weight loss. Unfortunately, this radical change can and often does result in people developing new addictions to compensate. Alcohol abuse in postoperative patients rose 11 percent, according to one study. Other addictions included gambling, drugs and sex. 

“The fact is that most patients we see have been on a million different diets and have been temporarily successful in weight loss, but gained it back, which is normal,” Dutson noted in Women’s Health. “But if they were able to lose weight temporarily, they will probably be very successful, because surgery makes it permanent.”

This “quick fix” isn’t necessarily cheap, with surgery costs ranging from around $7,000 to $34,000 depending on the type. Medical insurance may cover some of the expenses, depending on a variety of factors. But ultimately these surgeries are not cheap, simple or a quick fix. The good news is that they may be successful in certain situations, but only for those committed to living a healthy lifestyle after the operation is over.





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