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By 2030, an estimated 50% of U.S. adults will be obese—a sharp increase from the approximately 33% who are obese in 2022. With obesity rates on the rise, there’s no better time to bring awareness to the health risks of obesity and the proven benefits of bariatric surgery.
Obesity has been directly associated with serious health conditions that take away decades of active, enjoyable life. Among the most frequently diagnosed are:
People with obesity are more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. For many patients considering weight loss solutions, the harsh realities of the pandemic were a wake-up call. We’ve seen an increase in patients who are ready to take on the challenges—and reap the long-term benefits of—bariatric surgery.
MedStar Health is a national leader in the full range of weight loss surgery options, notably gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and revision surgery. In each option, a surgeon will adjust the size of your stomach, to reduce the amount of food it can hold, and for a few options, the intestines may be rerouted. Over time—in concert with making healthy lifestyle choices—the change can lead to long-term weight loss.
From better mental health to a longer lifespan, bariatric surgery offers several benefits beyond weight loss. But fewer than 20% of patients who qualify for bariatric surgery go through with it—often due to misconceptions about the preparation, procedure, and ongoing maintenance.
If you are on the fence about bariatric surgery, talk with your doctor about your short- and long-term health risks.
And consider these five benefits of bariatric surgery. The vast majority of our patients say choosing to have a weight loss procedure was one of the best health decisions they ever made.
Related reading: Bariatric Surgery: More Than Weight Loss
By 2030, an estimated 50% of U.S. adults will be obese. Ivanesa Pardo discusses how #BariatricSurgery can reduce rates of #obesity and offer patients longer, healthier lives. #WeightLossSurgery: https://bit.ly/3M5d4Q7.Click to Tweet
A thorough study published on JAMA Network examined the years of life lost to obesity in Black and White populations. Researchers found that obesity reduces life expectancy in all adults, and especially in young adults. For example:
- A 20-year-old Black woman with a body mass index (BMI) over 45 has an estimated 8.9% reduction in remaining years of life.
- A 20-year-old Black or White man with a BMI over 45 has an estimated 22% reduction in remaining years of life.
- A 20-year-old White woman with a BMI over 45 has an estimated 13% reduction in remaining years of life.
Other studies have shown that the risk of death from any health cause is 40% lower after bariatric surgery. The sooner we treat patients with obesity, the longer they’ll live. If you are 18 or older and have obesity, get an evaluation for bariatric surgery before other medical conditions develop.
2. Long-term weight loss.
A common myth about bariatric surgery is that you’ll gain back all the weight you lost—or more. The truth is, over 90% of patients sustain long-term weight loss after their procedure.
A successful bariatric surgery results in a loss of more than 50% of your excess weight. When we say “excess weight,” we mean anything above your ideal weight based on your age, gender, height, and overall health.
For example, if your ideal weight is 200 pounds and you currently weigh 300 pounds, you have 100 pounds of excess weight. You could expect to lose 50-75 pounds within a year just from surgery, and more from following your long-term maintenance plan.
After surgery, you’ll be exercising more and eating healthier—behaviors we’ll help you develop and improve before surgery. And you’ll have regular follow-up appointments with us so we can help you stay on track.
Related reading: The Inside Scoop on Bariatric Surgery
3. Fewer health conditions.
After bariatric surgery, Type 2 diabetes goes away completely in 85% of patients who had the disease prior to their procedure. For the rest, weight loss surgery can drastically reduce the reliance on diabetes medication. This is due to the metabolic changes that occur during surgery—studies have shown that medication alone cannot produce these benefits.
Sleep apnea, a common condition linked to obesity, also usually goes away. Patients with sleep apnea stop breathing many times during sleep, and in patients with obesity, its often because excess tissues in the neck block their airway. High blood pressure also improves after bariatric surgery—most patients who had one or both of these conditions prior to surgery no longer did 3-6 months after their procedure.
Bariatric surgery can also, amongst many benefits:
- Reduce cholesterol
- Delay joint degeneration and replacements
- Resolve nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- Improve polycystic ovarian syndrome symptoms
4. Better mental health.
Living with obesity is hard. From traveling to job hunting to clothes shopping, patients often feel judged, which can affect their stress levels and mental health over time.
Patients with obesity often have depression or anxiety. Research shows that these conditions typically improve after bariatric surgery, especially in patients with low self-esteem or body image frustrations.
Obesity also can cause chronic fatigue that keeps patients from participating in activities they enjoy. After healing from bariatric surgery, patients can move more and breathe better. And when they start feeling better physically, their mental health improves.
Every patient interested in bariatric surgery at MedStar Health undergoes a mental health evaluation before surgery. While beneficial, having bariatric surgery is a major life change that can trigger more stress and anxiety. By identifying patients who might struggle with the change, we can closely monitor their symptoms and provide support as their mental health improves.
5. Improved quality of life.
One of the best parts of my job as a bariatric surgeon is seeing how happy patients are after surgery. It feels good to take fewer medications, to play sports you’ve been longing to try, to bike, run, or play with kids and grandkids.
To achieve a higher quality of life, patients put in a lot of work. Bariatric surgery is not an “easy way out.” It requires significant behavioral changes before and after surgery that patients must work to maintain every day.
However, this doesn’t mean you will live off green smoothies for the rest of your life. You’ll still be able to enjoy an occasional rich meal or slice of cake—just in smaller portions and less often than you might have eaten treats before surgery.
Bariatric surgery is safe and effective. For those struggling with obesity, the procedure can be life-changing—and lifesaving.