What to Expect
The health benefits of losing weight are countless. Most patients will lose between 50-70% of their excess weight. The exact amount of weight that is lost will depend on compliance with dietary and exercise guidelines after surgery and follow-up in the program. The time over which the weight loss occurs depends on the procedure that is chosen. The risks of many of the serious diseases associated with obesity decline dramatically as weight loss occurs and many conditions can be reversed. Many of the medications required for the diseases can be stopped or the dosages lowered.
In many of the conditions such as diabetes, there is no medical intervention that can achieve the profound effects as obtained in bariatric surgery. In addition, the quality of life is improved. Patients often remark how they are now able to do things that non-obese individuals may look at as trivial. Long-term maintenance of the weight loss has been documented in dozens of studies with follow-up as long as fifteen years out from surgery. Some medical conditions that greatly improve after surgery include:
- Diabetes – More than 80% of Type II diabetics have complete resolution of their diabetes, and many others have greatly improved control. This usually occurs within a few weeks of surgery for gastric bypass patients, and slightly longer for Lap-Band patients. Patients are able to come off their medications including insulin injections and have normal blood glucose and Hemoglobin A1C levels.
- Hypertension/High Blood Pressure – Over 70% of patients are able to come off all of their anti-hypertensive medications. Many other patients are able to significantly reduce the number or dosages of their medications.
- High Cholesterol – Over 80-90% of patients will develop normal cholesterol levels within two to three months after gastric bypass, with significant improvement seen for Lap-Band patients as well.
- Sleep Apnea Syndrome/Hypoventilation – The large majority of patients have improved breathing at night and overall decreased shortness of breath following weight loss. Sleep apnea is resolved in over 85% of patients. Patients feel refreshed and usually no longer require accessory breathing apparatus after weight loss.
- Degenerative Joint Disease – Patients who have significant joint pain which limits their activities find after surgery they can now participate in many activities and social events, even sports. Lower back pain and disc disease is often relieved and overall improvement is usually seen with as little as 25-30 pounds of weight loss. If nerve injury or structural damage had already occurred, the complete relief of pain cannot be expected.
- Acid Reflux – Bariatric surgery is an excellent method of treating acid reflux disease. Relief is usually noticed within a few days of the surgery.
Other conditions which have been shown to greatly improve after surgery include asthma, stress urinary incontinence, polycystic ovary syndrome and many others. Many of the conditions improve as quickly as a few months after surgery.