You’ve tried everything to lose weight. You started with the latest diet and exercise fads. Predictably, the scale didn’t move. Next you moved on to a strategy that should have worked: Maybe you tried counting calories, maybe you followed the Mediterranean diet, maybe you just made better food choices. And, you made sure to get your CDC-recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. You were sure you’d lose weight this time.
But it didn’t happen.
If you have tried every viable weight-loss strategy you could think of to no avail, it might be time to consider bariatric surgery. It’s a big step, but you’re committed. So, when is the best time to get bariatric surgery? To borrow from a Chinese proverb about planting trees: The best time to get bariatric surgery is five years ago. The second-best time is now.
The Dangers of Obesity
Why shouldn’t you wait to get bariatric surgery? Because with every pound you’re overweight and every day you delay, your body is breaking down. A 2017 study from Cleveland Clinic and New York University researchers determined that obesity is the number one preventable cause of death, even ahead of smoking.
That’s because a number of . Sometimes obesity is a direct cause and other times it increases risk factors like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
And obesity doesn’t stop at the top 10. It is a factor in a very large number of conditions, some potentially fatal and others “merely” decreasing quality of life. Some of these include but are not limited to:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Fatty liver disease
- Gestational diabetes
- Gallbladder disease
- Metabolic disease
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Sleep apnea
Are You a Candidate for Weight-Loss Surgery?
Not everyone can or should undergo weight loss surgery. There are some specific criteria you’ll have to meet before you’re a candidate. First, you’ve had to have worked hard to keep to sensible, sustainable eating and exercise habits without seeing results. Second, you need to meet one of the following two criteria:
- Have a body mass index (BMI) of over 40 or are roughly 100 pounds over their ideal body weight
- Have a BMI of over 35 and have at least one obesity-related health complication such as hypertension, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes or obstructive sleep apnea
Beyond selection criteria, choosing to have weight-loss surgery is a big decision with a lot to think about. For one, many of the established and popular forms of bariatric surgery—including sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass and duodenal switch—are irreversible. You can elect to go with one of the reversible procedures such as intragastric balloon or adjustable gastric band, but those come with their own set of risk factors and side effects.
Weight-loss surgery is both safe and effective, but some patients have a chance (usually a small chance) of experiencing one of the following after their surgery:
- Blood clots
- Dumping syndrome
- Leakage from the stomach
Finally, you have to have realistic expectations. While many if not most people lose weight rapidly after they have surgery, every person’s weight loss journey is different. Also be aware that weight loss may result in excess skin, which may necessitate cosmetic surgery to remove.
Make the Choice, Work the Program
So you’ve thought carefully about whether weight-loss surgery is right for you, and you’ve decided it is. Congratulations! It’s time to meet with your surgeon and discuss your options. But, there are a few more ways to set yourself up for success before you go under the knife. The most important thing you can do, according to a 2017 study in JAMA, is to get yourself under BMI 40. People who were under BMI 40 were far more likely to achieve a BMI of less than 30 after surgery.
Weight loss is a lifelong journey, and bariatric surgery is only one step. Following a proper, surgeon-recommended diet and getting enough exercise is crucial to your success. Make the needed lifestyle changes and watch how weight loss surgery can change your life. What are you waiting for?
About Advanced Surgeons
At Advanced Surgeons, we specialize in changing the lives of our patients, one patient at a time. Regardless of which weight-loss procedure you choose to have—or when you choose to have it—we utilize cutting-edge tools and techniques to ensure your surgery is safe and effective. If you have questions about bariatric surgery, or if you’d like to schedule an appointment or consultation, contact us today.