Benefits of Bariatric Surgery

It is well accepted that weight loss leads to improvement of obesity-associated diseases, prolongs life and improves the quality of life. In order to achieve these benefits, weight loss must be permanent. There are a variety of ways that people have found to try to treat obesity, including diets, behaviour therapy and diet pills. There is no doubt that a person living with morbid obesity can go on a diet and lose weight. You have done this several times over the course of your life. The difficulty is maintaining the weight loss for the rest of your life. In a famous study by Wolf and Colditz published in 1996, patients were placed on a diet and followed for more than a year. The proportion of patients dropping out of the assigned diet regimen was over 90% by 52 weeks (graph). In simpler terms, it is very difficult for a person living with morbid obesity to stay on a permanent diet for the rest of their lives. Maintaining weight following a successful diet is also problematic. A well known study by Dr. Stunkard and colleagues, showed that patients placed on a diet lost up to 30 lbs on a very low calorie diet for 4 months, but once stopped, they regained all the lost weight, and in some cases, even more. This “yo-yo” dieting and subsequent fluctuating weight loss and regain was observed over 5 years of follow-up in this study.

Weight loss surgery produces permanent weight loss

Weight-loss surgery has been shown to be very effective at producing significant and sustained weight-loss. Weight-loss operations done today are effective when they  are done in a center that offers an aftercare program that focuses on dietary, behavioural and exercise changes and most importantly, when the patient is willing to work WITH their operation. Each of the available surgeries truly is a “tool” that will help to control hunger and portion size, but that’s it! The rest is up to the patient. In general, gastric bypass patients will lose around 70 percent of their excess body weight, sleeve gastrectomy patients will lose around 60 percent. For example, if you are 100 lbs overweight, you will lose an average of 70 lbs and keep most of this off for the rest of your life. Gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy patients almost always achieve the expected weight-loss outlined above. We do not worry about these patients losing weight;  we worry about them regaining it down the road. This will occur if they do not follow our long term instructions and modify their lifestyle with the help of the surgery.

Weight loss surgery improves obesity-associated health conditions

All the obesity-associated conditions are resolved or at least improved by weight loss through bariatric surgery. The graphic lists the actual rates based on multiple research studies. Please note that individual results may vary. OBESE MRI PATIENT

Weight loss surgery prolongs life expectancy

Morbid obesity is associated with decreased life span. The life expectancy of a man in his 20s, is 13 years shorter, if his body mass index (BMI) is over 45 Kg/m2. In 2004, Dr. Christou published a landmark study where he followed over 1,000 patients after bariatric surgery and compared them to over 5,000 patients living with morbid obesity who did not have surgery. He found that the 5-year mortality rate in the bariatric surgical group was 0.68% compared with 6.2% in the medically managed patients— an 89% relative risk reduction in mortality. The above findings have been reproduced by other research teams throughout the word as highlighted in the table below.
Study Center Type of Surgery Death Risk Reduction
McGill University (Canada) Gastric bypass 89%
Padua University (Italy) Gastric banding 60%
Monash University (Australia) Gastric banding 72%
Gothenburg University (Sweden SOS study) Gastric bypass, Gastroplasty, Gastric banding 24%
Utah University (USA) Gastric bypass 40%
Average 57%
  These scientific research studies tell us that if a patient with morbid obesity undergoes surgery today, they will reduce their chance of dying by an average of 57%* compared to a patient with no surgery. Another way to interpret this research is that every year of waiting for bariatric surgery increases the risk of death by about 5-10%.*

* – Individual results may vary.

Why opt for weight loss surgery – the bottom line!

The main reason to have weight loss surgery is to recover your health, increase your lifespan and improve your quality of life.

Here are the facts:

  1. Morbid obesity is a chronic condition with many associated diseases.
  2. Diets don’t work in the long run, but you probably know this already.
  3. Medical experts agree that bariatric surgery produces long term weight loss.
  4. Medical experts agree that bariatric surgery improves most obesity-associated diseases including: Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, high cholesterol/lipids and stress incontinence.
  5. Medical experts agree that bariatric surgery reduces the risk of premature death.