Benefits of Surgery
This risk of surgical mortality, defined as death within thirty days of a bariatric operation, ranges from .1-.5%. This is equal to elective gallbladder surgery and, in fact, ten times less than that of colon surgery. The risk of early death from obesity related conditions, however, is two to twelve times higher than that of the general population. Indeed, the comorbidities associated with this disease are truly devastating.
Bariatric surgery is unique in that one can actually experience complete resolution of multiple disease processes with a singular intervention and appropriate lifestyle modification.
Indeed, there is no other paradigm in all of medicine where this is true. Following surgery, the cure and improvement rates for diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, hyperlipidemia, joint disease, GERD, and many other afflictions are remarkable. Most studies show a collective improvement/cure rate of around 90% for these comorbidities.
It is quite common, and in fact the rule, to see someone who is on eight to ten medications preoperatively to be taking only a daily vitamin by twelve months after surgery. Further, research is now showing that cancer risk (from all types together) is reduced by up to 50%. These benefits are truly the most profound of any seen for any treatment in all of medicine.
Increased Life Expectancy
It follows that if medical problems improve, one would expect a longer life expectancy. In fact, several large studies have now confirmed that, showing anywhere from a 40-90% reduction in death rate in five years for those undergoing weight loss surgery.
One large study in 2007 looked at 14,000 subjects and found that at seven years, those who had undergone gastric bypass surgery enjoyed a 56% decreased mortality from heart disease, 92% decrease in mortality from diabetes and had 60% less cancer deaths.
Although the above statistics concerning reduction in medical problems and improve longevity are significant and truly amazing benefits of bariatric surgery, it is profound improvements in lifestyle that are most exciting and dramatic for many of our patients.
Those who suffer morbid obesity know that its effects are much deeper than a list of medical problems. It is a disease that affects every aspect of one’s life. It limits daily activities, places a strain on relationships, drains energy and blunts opportunity for career advancement.
This becomes a perpetual downward spiral and before long, every aspect of every day is affected by one’s weight. Many eventually simply give up hope of achieving the life they dream of, or may have once had.
However, as the weight comes off, this cycle is broken and hope is reborn. Tasks that once were a strain, like walking stairs, mowing the lawn, or even taking the kids to the park, are once again easy and enjoyable. Activities like going to the amusement park, riding a bike, shopping for “normal” clothes, or traveling by airplane are now possible. Energy returns, confidence and independence grow. Many of our patients will pick up new hobbies, seek further education, start a new career, or recommit to goals once felt out of reach. The whole world opens back up and life begins anew. Bariatric surgery becomes a truly life-altering event for most of our patients.
Some challenges after weight loss surgery can be expected. Surgical complications can and do occur. Likewise, lifestyle changes will be difficult. Certainly, the road to achieve your goals will not be easy, but for those willing to commit to success and following a disciplined strategy, the reward will be not only a healthier and longer life, but one which will be transformed and renewed. For us, nothing brings greater joy than to walk along side our patients through this transformation.