Is Weight Loss Surgery Right For You?

by Jenny on April 6, 2012

Weight Loss SurgeryBecause there are so many options for weight loss, and so many options for weight loss surgery, it is important to evaluate whether weight loss surgery is even right for you.  Who makes the perfect candidate for weight loss surgery?  And what should be kept in mind when choosing weight loss surgery?

The first requirement for a weight loss surgery candidate is that an individual is 80-100 or more pounds overweight.  This means the individual has a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more (Obesity-Help, 2012).  A doctor can help you in assessing your body mass index, and charts are available online for self-evaluation.  Individuals that do not meet this requirement are not eligible for surgical weight loss procedures because the level of weight loss, and the risks associated with the surgery, are too high.  In these cases, other weight loss options will be looked into to lose and manage weight.

Furthermore, patients seeking weight loss surgery are generally required to demonstrate that they have tried and failed with other weight loss methods.  In other words, weight loss surgery should not be a patient’s first option for weight loss.  Although surgical procedures have greatly advanced, it is still surgery, and thus must be treated as such.

In general, patients who are obese, suffer from life-threatening conditions related to their weight, and those whose weight puts them at high risk for disease, are considered ideal candidates for weight loss surgery procedures (Hutcher, 2011).  This is because the risk/reward scale is more balanced with these candidates; and because these candidates stand the most to gain from weight loss surgery.

Aside from medical considerations, before weight loss surgery is undertaken, it should be demonstrated that the desire for the surgery is right, and not simply an emotional decision (Sutter Health, N.d).  This is a standard procedure that is done with any cosmetic procedure.  Even plastic surgery requires psychological evaluations as these ensure that the motives for the surgery are pure.  This also ensures that the patient has realistic expectations of the surgical procedure and the results of the surgery.

What To Expect

Realistic expectations are of utmost importance in undergoing surgical procedures.  It is important that patients understand their role in the surgery; and in encouraging, enhancing, and maintaining weight loss.  It is also important that patients understand that while weight loss surgery will assist in remedying weight-related health conditions (i.e. diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure), it will not remedy psychological issues that may be present.  For example, many obese individuals have poor self-image, and suffer from depression.  It is important to understand that while these conditions may lighten with the success of the surgery as one feels better about themselves, it may also continue.  Psychological issues must be dealt with individually, and therapy may be a good option to couple with one’s weight loss surgery.  A consult with a weight loss surgeon will help in determining the best course of action for the patient.

Another part of having realistic expectations surrounding the procedure is understanding the processes that follow the surgery.  One’s body does not automatically become perfect after surgery.  Instead, most individuals exercise, follow a strict diet, and go through follow-up surgeries.  In some cases these may be additional surgeries to re-shape the stomach into the small pouch that the initial surgery made it.  In other cases, this refers to plastic surgery to remove excessive skin left over from when the person was heavier.  This happens because the skin stretches to accommodate the extra weight that a person gains,  With moderate levels of weight gained and lost, the skin is able to go back to its normal shape.  However, with individuals who are obese, the skin is unable to fully return to its former shape, and/or there is simply too much skin and not all of that skin is needed for the smaller body.

Another surgical procedure that often accompanies weight loss surgery is body contouring and shaping.  This procedure also helps with putting the body back to the state it was in when it was at optimal weight.  This helps to sculpt the body and be sure that the natural shape is there.

In addition to realistic expectations on psychological issues, it is also important that the patient consider and understand the implications of bariatric procedures.  They need to understand that weight loss surgery changes he body, and thus one’s lifestyle choices must also be changed.  Most specifically, eating habit have to be changed.  Failure to change one’s eating habits put the patient at risk for health complications such as malnutrition, bursting of stitches or staples, or regained weight.

Are You Ready For a Major Change?

If so, then it’s time to quit smoking.  Why?  Ceatus Media Group LLC (2012) explains that smoking increases the risks associated with surgical weight loss procedures, and that “smokers who undergo surgery are more likely than nonsmokers to experience anesthesia-related complications, infections, heart attack, stoke, pneumonia, or death.”  Furthermore, since the smoking impairs the immune system, smoking before and after the surgery makes it more difficult for your body to recover.  Thus, longer recovery times are often seen with individuals that smoke, and this often includes longer hospital stays after the procedure is finished (Ceatus Media Group LLC, 2012).

As if this weren’t enough to make you want to drop your smoking habit, many surgeons won’t give you the choice.  Many surgeons in the US opt out of doing elective surgeries like weight loss surgeries on smokers due to the enhanced risk of working with them.

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