3 things to know about weight-loss surgery
With nearly 40% of the U.S. adult population considered obese, the disease is considered an epidemic that has sparked a rallying cry from providers, public health experts and policymakers alike.
That’s because obesity can deteriorate one’s quality of life beyond the weight issue itself: The disease increases the risk of other life-threatening diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Obese people are also at higher risk of mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression. In extreme cases, morbid obesity can also shave off up to 14 years from one’s life expectancy.
The medical and academic communities are always working to understand what exactly causes obesity, but it’s likely caused by a variety of factors, including lifestyle habits, genetics, as well as endocrinologic or metabolic disorders. There is a commonly held myth that obesity is caused by overeating alone, and that is simply not true. It’s a complex disease.
The good news is that, as our understanding of obesity grows, we can offer more innovative solutions to such a complex disease like obesity. I have found in my practice that many obese individuals and families feel stuck, and my message is always that there is hope.
Here are a few facts that often catch people by surprise:
- For those who qualify (BMI over 35 with comorbidities or BMI over 40 alone), bariatric surgery can be a low-risk option. The techniques and technology involved with bariatric surgery keep improving. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of surgery, so long as patients meet the criteria for surgery, and recovery is quick when using the latest minimally invasive surgical techniques. These techniques require much smaller incisions, limiting pain and discomfort and allowing early discharge the very next day after the operation.
- Surgery isn’t a silver bullet. On rare occasion, obese individuals benefit from exercise and diet alone. But most of the time, patients need a combination of surgery and medical management to keep the weight off in the long term. Medical management can be different things for different people, including special diets or medication.
- Weight loss treatment can lead to big lifestyle changes — for the better. Whether a patient undergoes surgery or another type of medical intervention, treatment is the start of a new chapter. To be sure, patients will need to adopt lifestyle changes to help maintain their weight loss. However, most patients who lose weight achieve a better health status and come off most of their medications, requiring fewer visits to specialists, except in cases of plastic surgery for post-weight loss body contouring.
Many times, the hardest step to take is the first one to seek help. It’s important that we continue raising awareness and education on obesity and treatment options so patients feel empowered, rather than ashamed, to seek the care they need to live their best and healthiest lives.
Are you trying to watch your weight? Take a free, quick online risk assessment to learn more about your healthy weight range by clicking here.