Weight-loss (bariatric) surgery was at one point available only to people who were severely obese. Now, those who are just overweight can sometimes choose to get the surgery as well, making it an option that many people believe is worth considering. But there’s lots of controversy, since the risks may outweigh the benefits. If you’re considering the any type of weight-loss surgery, you should make sure to take into account the potential dangers of each procedure. ThirdAge reviewed recent medical studies regarding various weight-loss surgeries and compiled a list of the most surprising findings – some positive and others daunting.
Potentially Good For Type 2 Diabetes. Several research studies have found that gastric-bypass surgery (which staples the stomach and reroutes the small intestine so that a smaller area can digest food) was more effective than standard diabetes treatment for overweight and obese people with Type 2 diabetes. Participants who had the popular surgery were significantly more likely to see their diabetes remit than those who took the usual diabetes drugs. Additionally, bariatric surgery has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood pressure in diabetes patients.
Less Risky Than Before – But Still Risky. Now that weight-loss surgery has been around for some time, surgeons are more experienced and less likely to make errors. However, it still poses some risks. One in 900 people die during or right after gastric bypass surgery. And about one in 2,000 people die during gastric banding (lap-band) surgery, in which a band restricts the area of the stomach that can absorb food. Up to three percent of gastric bypass patients and one percent of banding patients develop major complications after the surgery, such as blood clots.
May Overcome Infertility. In one study of over 500 women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and extreme obesity, gastric bypass surgery was shown to help restore fertility. PCOS creates a hormonal imbalance that makes women unable to have children. Whereas some women in the study did not want children or were beyond the child-bearing age range, the study found that all six of the women who had been trying to conceive were successfully able to do so within three years of the surgery. So, apparently there can be more to the surgery than just weight loss.
Can Cause “Dumping Syndrome.” One particularly disturbing complication of weight-loss surgeries is known as “dumping syndrome,” which occurs when stomach contents move too quickly through the small intestine, leading to nausea, diarrhea, and sweating. Many people who experience this are unable to eat certain foods without feeling very weak. Another risk of weight-loss surgery is developing nutritional deficiencies that can lead to an array of difficulties like osteoporosis and anemia.
May Stop The Genetic Obesity Chain. If a woman is obese and gives birth to a child, there’s a high chance the child will become obese too. But new research shows that bariatric surgery may assist in breaking the cycle of obesity that runs in families. The study looked at children of formerly obese mothers who had weight-loss surgery before they become pregnant, and found that they were less likely to develop obesity or to have risk factors associated with diabetes and heart disease.