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Pros and cons of weight loss surgery

A doctor may recommend weight loss surgery, or bariatric surgery, as a last resort for people who are so obese it is a danger to their life.

Like any operation, weight loss surgery carries risks. Neither is it the end of the weight loss process, as a lifelong diet and exercise regime will be recommended to help maintain a healthy weight.

Are you a candidate for weight loss surgery?

The NHS may use the following criteria to determine if someone is a candidate for weight loss surgery:

1. A body mass index (BMI) greater than 40.

You can calculate your body mass index using a BMI calculator.

2. Your BMI is greater than 35, and you have obesity-related health problems that may improve with weight loss.

Obstructive sleep apnoea, severe arthritis, and diabetes are several conditions that may benefit from even a small amount of weight loss. Weight loss surgery can dramatically improve these health problems when caused by obesity.

3. You can demonstrate that traditional weight loss programmes like diet and exercise haven't worked after having tried these for at least six months.

It's by far preferable to lose weight without surgery's risks. Weight loss surgery should be considered a last resort after traditional methods fail. Some centres may require you to show you have made serious efforts to lose weight.

4. You are ready to commit to permanent lifestyle changes and follow-up at a specialised obesity service after surgery.

Weight loss surgery is no quick fix. Ideally, surgery is only the beginning of a new healthy lifestyle.

5. You understand the risks and benefits of weight loss surgery, and are fit and healthy enough to undergo weight loss surgery and withstand the potential risks.

As with any surgical procedure, it's essential to be well-informed before considering weight loss surgery - knowing and accepting the risks as well as the benefits.

Benefits of weight loss surgery

The primary benefit of weight loss surgery is easy to understand - weight loss.

  • Gastric bypass surgery causes an average loss of around two-thirds of a person’s excess body weight.
  • Gastric banding surgery causes slightly less – around 50% of a person’s excess body weight.

Improvements in general health are also common. Obesity-related medical conditions usually improve after weight loss surgery, including:

About 95% of people in the US reported improved quality of life after weight loss surgery. Some studies also suggest people live longer after weight loss surgery, compared to equally obese people who do not have surgery.

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