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Feb 06, 2018

Study Highlights Additional Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery

Evidence shows that weight loss surgery improves diabetes management and heart health.

Bariatric surgery does more than help patients lose weight, based on a recent paper that highlights the many cardiovascular benefits of weight loss surgery in obese adults.

Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, this paper summarized the latest evidence about weight loss surgery and heart health. Its purpose was to highlight potential benefits of bariatric surgery, many of which extend far beyond weight loss for obese adults.

Among the many findings, one of the most important was the effect of weight loss surgery on diabetes. According to authors, there is high-quality evidence that weight loss surgery is more successful than medication at helping obese patients achieve blood sugar control. Surgery has even been shown to help some obese patients reverse type 2 diabetes through weight loss and lifestyle changes. For this reason, current guidelines support weight loss surgery in adults with mild obesity and uncontrolled type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, which occurs when the body doesn’t use blood sugar properly. It’s especially common in overweight and obese individuals and significantly increases risk for heart disease, among other complications.

In the recent paper, authors also note that weight loss surgery can improve blood pressure and cholesterol. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are known risk factors for heart disease. Keeping these levels in check can significantly reduce cardiovascular risk. However, authors note that additional research is needed to confirm the long-term effects of weight loss surgery on blood pressure and cholesterol.

Despite its many benefits, there are a few things every patient should know about weight loss surgery. First, not all obese patients are eligible for surgery. For some patients—like those with complex medical conditions or those who are morbidly obese—weight loss surgery may prove too risky.

Surgery is also not usually the first line of treatment for weight loss. Exercise, diet and medication, when necessary, can help many patients lose weight and improve their health. Surgery is usually offered as a potential treatment option only after these strategies have failed. Weight loss surgery does carry risks, although risk of death or serious complications from surgery are relatively low.

Finally, it’s important to note that not all weight loss procedures are the same. There are many types of weight loss surgery, such as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. While all promote weight loss, each works in different ways and has its own risks and benefits.

Ultimately, authors believe that weight loss surgery will become increasingly important for treating obesity and improving heart health. Worldwide obesity rates have more than doubled in the past few decades, and obesity now affects one in three U.S. adults. As such, weight loss surgery will likely serve as a lifeline for many patients struggling with obesity.


Read the full article in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How does bariatric surgery work?

  • Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries work by changing your digestive system to limit how much you can eat, by reducing the absorption of nutrients, or both. Weight-loss surgeries are used when standard weight-loss therapies such as diet and exercise have failed to work.
  • Am I eligible for weight-loss surgery?

  • Weight-loss surgery is often an option for obese individuals who have not seen results with diet and exercise. However, not all patients are eligible for surgery if they have other risk factors that could complicate the procedure. If you are interested in surgery, discuss your concerns and weight-loss options with your healthcare provider.

Infographic: Obesity

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