Ever considered weight loss surgery? Join the crowd.
From 1998 to 2004, the total number of bariatric surgeries has increased nine-fold, according to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. And the demand could rise even faster, the study predicts, because, so far, only a small fraction of those medically eligible have actually had it done.
Who’s a candidate?
“Obesity surgery promotes weight loss by either restricting the amount of food you’re able to take in and/or bypassing parts of the digestive tract to limit the amount of food, calories and nutrients your body absorbs,” explained Dr. Brian Lane of the Augusta University Center for Obesity & Metabolism.
Plus, structural changes created by surgery cause a normalization of a patient’s appetite-control hormones, making it easier to eat smaller amounts of food.
Candidates must meet the following:
- A body mass index of 40 or more, or about 100 pounds overweight for men and 80 pounds for women; or a BMI between 35 and 39.9 and a serious obesity-related health problem such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease or sleep apnea (when breathing stops for short periods during sleep)
- Lack of substance abuse problems, including tobacco, alcohol and other drugs
- Willingness to undergo medical, nutritional, psychological and surgical examinations
- An understanding of the operation and the lifestyle changes you will need to make
What’s the risk?
Although most patients lose significant amounts of weight, not all are able to keep it off, and side effects can include nausea, dehydration and ulcer problems in bypass patients. However, current surgical techniques by properly trained teams now make bariatric operations as safe as gallbladder surgery.
“It’s also important to remember: Surgical options aren’t an easy fix to weight problems,” added Lane. “Long-term success depends largely on a lifelong commitment to healthier eating habits, physical activity and regular medical care.”