Six weight loss surgery benefits besides weight loss

When you hear of weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery, you probably think of those incredible before and after photos. And yes, this surgery is mainly about weight loss. But what you may not know are all the other benefits associated with the surgery.

A woman in purple and pink workout gear celebrating with arms up in a flex pose.Dr. Samer Mattar, a bariatric surgeon in Houston at the Weight Loss and Metabolic Center at Baylor Medicine, wants patients to understand the multitude of benefits to weight loss surgery. Many are physical, but the rewards extend beyond weight loss.

“There are so many life-changing results from bariatric surgery,” says Mattar. “Not only do patients feel better physically but also this surgery improves their quality of life. Parents who were unable to play with their children can now chase them around. Traveling and exploring are now fun as they can fit in an airplane seat or hike with their family. They also see savings in medications and healthcare visits as a result of losing weight.”

Lisa Elsey, a recent weight loss surgery patient, describes many benefits she has experienced. “I can go shopping now without being exhausted from just an hour shopping trip. We are planning a vacation where we are going to be doing physical activities and I am excited about it–because I know I can do it! I feel more confident in myself.”

The experience of patients and research show there are many benefits to weight loss surgery. Here are six bariatric surgery benefits other than weight loss:

  1. Reverse Type 2 diabetes: One study shows that most patients who had bariatric surgery can get off insulin and other related medications for at least three years after weight loss surgery.
  2. Decrease risk of heart disease: Bariatric surgery is known to be the most effective way to achieve long-term weight loss and significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. That is because weight is largely related to health conditions such as heart disease, carotid artery disease, hypertension, dysrhythmia and venous thromboembolism. As a patient loses weight, their blood pressure and cholesterol levels can return to normal or near normal, thus reducing the risks of heart issues. Plus, a recent study shows bariatric surgery reduces major adverse cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attack in addition to reducing the risk of heart disease.
  3. Decrease risk of cancer: According to a new study published in JAMA, obese adults who had bariatric surgery had a 32% reduced chance of getting cancer and a 48% lower risk of dying from cancer compared with those who did not.
  4. Increase emotional health: Studies show that bariatric surgery decreases depression by 32.7%. This could be because patients feel better about themselves after they lose significant weight. This is also probably affected by their quality of life. Lisa says: “I can play with my kids and run around. My kids are enjoying it too. They see a difference in me. My daughter says ‘Mom, you are more fun to be around!’ I say yes– because I am happier.”
  5. Eliminate sleep apnea: About 80% of patients can stop using their CPAP machine and experience a remission of sleep apnea within one year after surgery.
  6. Improved fertility: Weight loss can improve fertility and one study shows the risk of miscarriage is reduced after bariatric surgery.

Overall, there are many reasons to consider weight loss surgery. Talk to your doctor to see if you would be a good candidate or attend a free weight-loss seminar.

By Tiffany Harston, communications associate with the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery

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