Weight & watch

Weight & watch

Do you feel like you are carrying the weight of the world not just on your shoulders, but on your entire body, quite literally? It is time you gave bariatric surgery a serious thought. Bariatric surgery is the surgical method of treating obesity. This line of treatment is advised to patients who have failed to lose weight with the help of conventional therapies such as cutting down on calories, exercising and
following commercial weight-loss programmes.

Extreme obesity, where the person's body mass index is over 35, can bring with it a whole range of additional health complications. Bariatric surgery is considered a better alternative to the conventional therapies, as weight loss here is more significant and sustained. Additionally, the energy levels and hormonal changes experienced by the patients are better, compared to that of conventional weight-loss therapies.

Here are a few other health benefits of bariatric surgery:

Remission for Type 2 diabetes: Through sustained weight loss from bariatric surgery, patients with Type 2 diabetes needn't take insulin injections and other associated medications. Compared to intensive medical therapy alone, bariatric surgery allowed 90% to 95% of obese patients with Type 2 diabetes to stop taking insulin, while many did not need other diabetes medications three years after surgery.

Improved cardiovascular health: Weight-loss surgery decreases a person's risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral heart disease. Bariatric surgery can help reduce the risk of clogged arteries as well.

Blood pressure and cholesterol control: Through bariatric surgery, blood pressure and cholesterol levels can return to normal, or near normal levels. This can significantly reduce the health risks associated with high blood pressure or cholesterol.

Emotional well-being: Depression is common in people suffering from obesity, as they have a poor body image and experience social stigma. Weight loss through surgery can improve their emotional health, reducing stress.

Healthy liver: Weight-loss surgery can help avoid disorders including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and liver cirrhosis. These complications can lead to liver failure and the patient may require a transplant.

Cure for sleep apnea: Achieving and sustaining normal weight will help patients with sleep apnea to stop using a continuous positive airway pressure machine at bedtime, to ensure their body receives the required amount of oxygen.

Joint pain relief: Excessive weight can put a lot of pressure on your weight-bearing joints, often causing chronic pain, osteoarthritis and joint damage. Weight loss that occurs after bariatric surgery relieves the stress on joints, allowing patients to stop using pain medications and enjoy much more mobility.

Improved fertility: Bariatric surgery can also improve fertility levels and avoid the complications associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Bariatric surgery can also alleviate conditions like metabolic syndrome, pregnancy complications, gallbladder disease and cancers associated with obesity such as cancers of the colon, gallbladder, endometrium, breast, and pancreas.

Despite the many health benefits that occur after bariatric surgery, continued follow-ups with your doctor are strongly recommended. Overall, patients who have undergone bariatric surgery can live longer and healthier lives, but again, this is based on being properly selected for surgery, being treated by an experienced surgeon and continuing to practice a healthy lifestyle. One must also consult experts from related specialities in postoperative obesity, nutrition and metabolic care to get optimum results.

(The author is senior consultant & in-charge, department of Surgical Gastroenterology, Gleneagles Global Hospitals)

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