Evidence suggests that bariatric surgery can be an effective treatment for a variety of metabolic conditions, including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Although bariatric surgery has proven to be an effective and lasting treatment for morbid obesity, mounting evidence suggests that the benefits go far beyond weight loss. Our patients Chuck and Theresa, both featured in our blog earlier this week, are just two examples of how bariatric surgery can improve your health in ways that aren’t experienced through other weight loss approaches.

According to Dr. Scott Shikora, Director, Center for Metabolic Health and Bariatric Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the ultimate goals of weight loss surgery should be the health benefits, not just the weight loss. He explains that most of us are aware that bariatric surgery can lead to dramatic weight loss and a corresponding increase in self-esteem, but many of us don’t realize how many metabolic diseases and conditions can be effectively treated through weight loss surgery.

Shikora and his peers are thus trying to raise awareness about the breadth of weight loss surgery’s benefits. “The field is now more focused on the health benefits of weight loss surgery,” explains Dr. Shikora. “We talk to patients about the health benefits first, and then we talk about weight loss.”

Weight loss surgery, like other weight loss methods, is important for treating heart disease, depression, asthma, infertility in women, osteoarthritis, and gout. However, bariatric surgery is also believed to be particularly effective at treating metabolic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, and obstructive sleep apnea. In some cases, such as type 2 diabetes, patients experience significant improvement within days after surgery. In many cases, the diseases go into remission.

“Gastric bypass, in particular, has been shown to be extraordinary in its ability to improve or even cure diabetes,” says Dr. Shikora. He explains that over 80% of patients with type 2 diabetes can expect to leave the hospital with normal blood sugars and be off all their medications within days of surgery.

Furthermore, a recent Swedish study has shown that obese patients who undergo bariatric surgery are less likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than those patients who undergo more conventional treatment for their weight condition.

“Many published studies have clearly demonstrated that qualified candidates who opt to have bariatric surgery dramatically improve their chances of living longer and having a better quality of life,” says Dr. Shikora.

– Chris P

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