First Things First, What are we talking about?
1. What is Morbid Obesity?
“Obesity is, pardon the pun, a growing epidemic.”
Worldwide, the percentage of adults who are morbidly obese has skyrocketed over the past 30 years and there appears to be little evidence that this trend is slowing. In fact, worldwide, the rate of childhood obesity is growing so fast and that it is the primary reason that experts believe that today’s generation may actually have a lower life expectancy that their parents.
Morbid Obesity Defined
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) define morbid obesity as: Being 100 pounds or more above your ideal body weight. Or, having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or greater. Or, having a BMI of 35 or greater and one or more co-morbid conditions present.
What are those co-morbid conditions?
- Central Obesity
- Low HDL
- High Blood Pressure
- Elevated Fasting Blood Sugar
2. Why is Morbid Obesity such a bad thing?
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed as morbidly obese, you already know what the health ramifications are should you or they fail to lose substantial amounts of weight. In short, a person diagnosed with morbid obesity can expect much greater risk of the following:
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Cancer (some types)
- Gall Bladder Disease
- Heart Disease
- Kidney Failure
- Sleep disorders
3. What are the most common types of weight loss surgery?
The following descriptions were found on WebMD.
- Gastric Bypass: Perhaps the most common type of weight loss surgery is called the “Roux-en-Y” gastric bypass, or RYGB. This is a complicated surgery that requires the skills of a gifted surgeon. The surgeon leaves only a very small part of the stomach (called the pouch). That pouch can’t hold a lot of food, so you eat less. The food you eat bypasses the rest of the stomach, going straight from the pouch to your small intestine. This surgery can often be done through several small incisions using a camera to see inside (laparoscope). Doctors can also perform a mini-gastric bypass, which is a similar procedure also done through a laparoscope.
- Adjustable Gastric Band: A newer form of gastric bypass is called the “Lap Band Surgery.” The surgeon puts a small band around the top of your stomach. The band has a small balloon inside it that controls how tight or loose the band is. The band limits how much food can go into your stomach. This surgery is done using a laparoscope.
- Gastric Sleeve: A more radical form of weight loss surgery is called the “Gastric Sleeve.” This surgery removes most of the stomach and leaves only a narrow section of the upper part of the stomach, called a gastric sleeve. The surgery may also curb the hunger hormone ghrelin, so you eat less.
- Duodenal Switch: The “Duodenal Switch” weight loss surgery, is more complicated and removes most of the stomach and uses a gastric sleeve to bypass most of your small intestine. It greatly limits how much you can eat. Nutritional malabsorption is a far more common complication for this type of surgery.
4. What are the most common side effects of weight loss surgery?
- Depression is very common (informative study on depression following weight loss surgery)
- Excess Skin (and the cost of corrective surgery can be high)
- Need for further surgery (roughly 20-30%)
- Change in bowel habits
- Increased family stress
5. What are the some of the serious risks and side effects immediately following of Weight Loss Surgery?
- Leakage at surgical site
- Blood clots
6. What are some of the serious long-term consequences of Weight Loss Surgery?
- Dumping Syndrome (occurs when food moves through the intestines too fast causing nausea, weakness, sweating, fatigue, faintness, diarrhea after eating. Occurs in up to 50% of people having weight loss surgery. Greatly aggravated by consumption of sweet foods.
- Gallstones (can be minimized by taking bile salts)
- Malabsorption of nutrients (a key reason women who intend to get pregnant should not have weight loss surgery, because of the negative effects on the developing baby)
If you decided to get weight loss surgery, please consider the following:
7. Weight Loss Surgery is Not a Quick Fix
Prior to surgery, most doctors will request that you do the following:
- Lose 15-45 lbs
- Stop smoking
- Begin eating healthy food
- Begin exercising
After Weight Loss Surgery, your doctor will remind you to:
- Eat health-supporting foods
- Take your vitamins and minerals
- Exercise daily
- Don’t smoke
- Have regular consultation with your doctor
8. Join a Support Group for people who had Weight Loss Surgery
The dramatic changes you will go through following weight loss surgery can cause a lot of turmoil in one’s personal life. Not only will you feel different about yourself, but so will your family and friends. We have found that those undergoing this kind of surgery benefit tremendously from joining a support group that focuses on these issues.
9. The risks of Weight Loss Surgery, although significant, are lower than doing nothing.
The risk of serious complications following weight loss surgery are significant. The greatly increased risk of developing any one of the serious chronic health problems associated with failing to address to the excessive weight are well known and taken together are far greater than the known risks of weight loss surgery.
10. Most people who have had Weight Loss Surgery say they would do it again
In brief, most people who have had weight loss surgery say if given the choice, they would make the same decision and have the surgery. This is a very important finding; given all the potential negative consequences of the surgery, most people would still choose to have the surgery again.