The medical community views morbid obesity as a lifelong disease. Individuals suffering from morbid obesity generally are genetically predisposed to the condition, and they face environmental, social and psychological factors that can increase the likelihood of morbid obesity. Gastric bypass surgery has a history of helping patients effectively manage their disease. The surgery has two methods to help patients lose weight: restriction and malabsorption.
During the gastric bypass procedure, the stomach is partitioned and a small stomach pouch is formed. Then, the small intestine is rerouted to allow for malabsorption of calories and nutrients. Gastric bypass surgery uses these two mechanisms to help patients experience satiety, or fullness, will less food, while also reducing the calories and nutrients absorbed.
Patients need to understand that gastric bypass surgery is a tool designed to help patients manage their disease. As a tool, gastric bypass surgery has impressive long-term weight loss results and benefits patients with the reversal or improvement of co-morbid conditions. However, the achievement is not completely due to surgery. While most gastric bypass patients are able to lose excess body weight and improve or resolve their co-morbid conditions, they must still use the tool effectively long term. This includes following a healthy and balanced food plan with additional nutritional supplements, as well as regular physical activity. These lifestyle changes contribute to patients’ overall health and can be embraced before surgery, with your doctor’s approval, to prepare you for the changes ahead. It is important to view gastric bypass as a tool that can help you transform your health.
Morbid obesity can lead to a shorter life and many life-threatening health problems, or co-morbid conditions. Recent studies show that the risk of an early death from those struggling with obesity is twice that of a non-obese person. With treatment, there is a better chance for enjoying good health and a longer life. A clinical study shows that gastric bypass surgery improves life expectancy in patients by 89 percent. Dedicating yourself to effective treatment is necessary for better health. Finding that treatment begins with learning how weight affects you.
If you find yourself struggling with one or more obesity-related health conditions, bariatric surgery could be right for you. If you choose to have bariatric surgery, your choice should be based on discussions between you and your ALSA surgeon, including goals and strategy for long-term care. Patient selection for bariatric surgery is based on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) criteria: 100 pounds or more above ideal body weight or a BMI of 40 or greater BMI of 35 or greater with one or more obesity-related health conditions. The amount of weight a patient will lose after the procedure depends upon several factors. These include:
- Patients age
- Weight before surgery
- Overall condition of patient’s health
- Surgical procedure performed
- Ability to exercise
- Commitment to maintaining dietary guidelines and follow-up care
- Motivation of patient and support from family and friends.
Surgical treatment, although not without risk, is the most effective long-term treatment for extreme obesity. Bariatric surgery, by reducing excess body weight and improving overall health, can improve patients’ lives in many personal ways. Some benefits are common among patients; others are unique to each individual patient. Here are some of the benefits patients have described:
- Improved job or career prospects
- Reduced shortness of breath
- Increased energy level
- Greater confidence
- Improved dating life
- Greater variety in choice of clothing
- Exercise is more rewarding.
Here are a few activities and changed behaviors that patients have enjoyed:
- I put on a bathing suit for the first time in 22 years
- It’s more enjoyable to be outdoors
- I walk farther than I used to
- Now I ride my bike, walk and go hunting and fishing
- I’m able to ride roller coasters with my children
- It’s easier to play and be active with the family
- Traveling is more enjoyable
Bariatric surgery poses certain risks. It takes educating yourself about the risks so you can make an informed decision. This website is dedicated to providing you with the information and resources to help you make an educated decision. It is ALSA’s goal to give you general tools to educate you and your family and friends. And, although details vary from patient to patient, it provides a guide, from your initial visit to authorization to recovery to an ongoing healthy lifestyle.