More and more people keep talking about their experience with weight loss surgery. And so, more people are getting interested in getting one as a way to finally get rid of those extra body pounds. But is weight loss surgery your solution? How does it compare to the scientifically-proven weight loss methods that we have relied on before, such as regular physical activity and a well-balanced diet? Is it worth it getting a weight loss surgery done? Let’s find out, shall we?
The potential risks of obesity
We understand that it is not everybody’s wish to have a lean body like the one's models have in all of those glossy magazines. While some are feeling satisfaction showing off their abs, there are others that do not think twice about the way that they look. The most important thing, after all, is to love yourself and your body; however, it may look.
But one thing is sure – most of us do care about our health. Each day we learn about the increased number of deaths caused by the various diseases and wonder how we could protect ourselves against these issues that threaten our good health.
One of the contributing factors to bad health is obesity. And while we are in no means telling you that just because you have a few extra body pounds, you are obese, we are telling you that maintaining a good weight is one of the key factors to protecting your health. As for all of you out there struggling with either being overweight or obese, you should know that these conditions come with more health risks that we would count.
For starters, there is a clear link between obesity and high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and triglycerides levels. This, on the other hand, is being linked to an increased risk of heart disease and heart attack (1, 2). Obesity also increases the risk of diabetes type 2 by increasing your blood sugar levels (3). You are also exposed to an increased risk of stroke, depression, anxiety, and even cancer (4, 5, 6). If you are obese and currently pregnant, there is a risk of stillbirth and miscarriage from happening, apart from other common health risks for you and for your baby in the womb.
Knowing all of this, we hope that you will understand why losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight should be a priority in your life. If you do not want to do it for a good body, do it for your health instead.
How you lose weight matters
But how you initially lose weight matters as well. If we know anything about weight loss is that it is a process that is known to last longer and require a lot of time, effort, and patience. The most effective and sustainable weight loss results are achieved through the combination of a healthy diet and regular physical activity of any kind (7).
Following a well-balanced diet plan filled with enough nutrients and water, paired up with yoga, weight training, cardio, or even cycling, will deliver those wanted results eventually. Think of this as adapting to a new lifestyle, changing your entire mindset to achieve the ultimate results.
But most of the time, this task falls hard on our shoulders. Many of us rely on hundreds of different excuses as to why they are unable to eat healthily or go to the gym at least twice a week. And most of our attempts at losing that unwanted weight usually ends up by either quitting the whole process altogether or referring to methods that promise quick and easy results instead.
These methods, however, as much easy and effective they might be, are often linked to more health risks than you can imagine, all of them accompanying a rapid weight loss. And so, while promising to bring you closer to the body of your dreams, they are, in fact, threatening to worsen your health.
The different types of weight-loss surgeries
For the longest time ever, people have wondered whether or not should they pursue weight-loss surgeries as an answer to their weight loss problems. Over the years, different weight loss surgeries have been developed, and the interest for them has been growing ever since. Let’s look into the most common weight-loss surgeries done over the world.
Gastric banding is one of the most common weight-loss surgeries done nowadays. During a procedure such as this, a gastric band is placed around the stomach. The aim is to narrow it down to 8 to 14 mm opening. That way, you will need to eat less food to fill it up, thus inducing weight loss (8).
Yet another popular weight loss surgery is gastric bypass surgery. This is a procedure during which surgical staples are used to create a small pouch at the top part of the stomach. The pouch is then connected with the small intestine. By doing so, bypassing the rest of the stomach is done. With the gastric bypass, you will fill full by eating less food and also absorb fewer calories from the food that you have been eating (9).
Sleeve gastrectomy requires a large part of the stomach to be removed. The idea is that by performing this kind of surgery, lower levels of ghrelin – the appetite hormone will be produced. And so, not only will you feel full after eating little food, but you will also experience a reduced appetite as well (10).
Surprising short-term and long-term negative effects of weight-loss surgeries
These are only three of the many different weight loss surgeries that have been developed lately. They all have their own pros and cons, but if you ask us, none of them will result in a healthy weight loss. In addition, there are many long-term negative effects that you can also expect from getting weight loss surgery done. Now let’s look into these negative effects that you should also consider before making the decision to get a weight loss surgery done on you.
Your depression can actually worsen
If you thought that your obesity-induced depression symptoms would go away by getting a weight loss surgery done, you are wrong. According to a study published in the Obesity Journal, depression symptoms are quite common in 6 to 12 months after gastric bypass surgery (11). These symptoms can even occur among those who have not had any depression-related issues ever before.
Excess skin is quite a common issue
What a healthy, gradual weight loss process does is it allows your body to adjust to the new changes that are happening, including the changes to your skin. Rapid weight loss is often linked to the occurrence of excess skin that is unsatisfying to look at in the mirror (12).
Getting a weight loss surgery is one example of a rapid weight loss that causes excess skin. In fact, most of the people who have undergone a weight loss surgery are left with the need to undergo cosmetic surgery as well as a way to get rid of that excess skin of theirs.
There is a high risk of dumping syndrome
One of the most uncomfortable complications after weight loss surgery is a dumping syndrome. The dumping syndrome happens when food moves too fast from the stomach into the first part of the small intestine after you eat. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, about 85% of the patients will experience dumping syndrome at some point after their gastric bypass surgery (13). Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting, among others. Other gastrointestinal symptoms to be included, apart from the dumping syndrome, are constipation, gas, and loose stools (14).
There is also a high risk of alcohol abuse
A study published back in February 2013 showed that there had been a clear increase in the risk for alcohol abuse among patients who have undergone gastric bypass surgery (15). There are many theories that try to explain this link. One of the most popular theories tells about the higher peak alcohol levels, and the bariatric surgery patients are thought to reach those levels quickly after they have had the gastric bypass surgery done.
The need for regular physical activity is inevitable
If you thought that by getting a weight loss surgery done, you would avoid going to the gym, you are wrong. One of the biggest reasons for that is that regular physical activity has plenty of positive effects on your entire physical and mental health. And even if you are not interested in these positive effects, do know that during the post-surgery period, many doctors often recommend physical activity as a part of the recovery process. So really, weight loss surgery is not an easy fix that you can choose, even if you manage to avoid all of the complications that we have mentioned so far.
The high risk of malnutrition
Malnutrition is the term that refers to a condition in which the body is faced with the lack of the much-needed micro- and macronutrients. All of the weight loss surgeries that we mentioned so far have a certain risk of malnutrition. It is the gastric banding and bypass surgeries that pose the biggest threats since the individual is limited as to how much nutritious food he/she can eat (16). Duodenal switch, another common weight loss surgery, is also often linked to malnutrition (17). And malnutrition leads to many health issues, including chronic diseases and health conditions.
In order for weight loss surgery to be done, there is a need for general anesthesia to be used. But as much as useful anesthesia is, it also comes with some mild to more severe complications that unfortunately occur more often than we would like them to. For example, around 30% of the patients experience nausea and vomiting after waking up from general anesthesia (18). There is also a risk of nerve injury, hypothermia, embolism, and respiratory depression, among other complications. Anaphylaxis can also occur, to any type of anesthesia being used, that is. And the biggest complication of them all is, of course, the risk of death.
Are weight-loss surgeries worth it?
So considering all of the negative complications and risks that you can face after your weight loss surgery, let us ask you this – Do you really think that getting a weight loss surgery done is worth it? Sure, your weight loss results are inevitable as you will surely lose weight, however, in our opinion, any weight loss results are not worth it compared to the high risk of anesthesia complications, alcohol abuse, excess skin, and the dumping syndrome that you might as well face because of that weight loss surgery in the first place.
If you experience any of these complications and risk worsening your health because of surgery such as this one, would it really matter whether or not you are skinny or not? No, of course not because our health is what matters the most. And you should especially take this into consideration if you are going on the whole weight loss journey as a way to improve your health in the first place.
At any given time, we would advise you to pursue a healthy, well-balanced diet and regular physical activity instead of as an effective and scientifically proven weight loss method that is bound to provide long-lasting, sustainable weight loss effects that you will appreciate it. Not to mention all of the additional health benefits that you will get to enjoy as a result of this whole experience as well. Regular physical activity or a healthy diet do not pose any danger or risk to your health and life as compared to the different weight loss surgeries that we mentioned so far.
Although weight loss surgery may look like a quick and easy fix, many factors are to be considered in the decision-making process beforehand. The long list of complications is one of the most important factors that you need to think over before making your appointment to get a gastric bypass or a duodenal switch. Losing weight is meant to be done by relying on effective, natural methods such as regular exercise and a healthy diet, not lying under the knife, and hoping for the best.