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Gifts and Challenges of Bariatric Surgery

August 24, 2022

Bariatric surgery is a major undertaking, but it can reap the benefits weight-challenged patients dream about: thinner bodies, fewer health problems and better mobility.

For the most positive experience, you should begin this life-changing journey with a realistic picture of what to expect.

The overall experience is similar for all patients, but the specifics differ for each person and for each type of bariatric surgery: adjustable lap band, gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy or other methods.

Gifts of Bariatric Surgery

If you’ve started reading up on bariatric surgery, chances are a doctor advised you to consider this surgical route to losing weight. Once the surgery is complete, you’ll become slimmer over time and ultimately will enjoy perks such as shopping for clothing in the same stores as your peers.

You likely will feel less self-conscious in social gatherings and might even have greater success at work. Some research suggests that overweight people face greater discrimination at their workplaces.

Those with mobility issues are often thrilled to be able to walk longer distances once they’ve reached a weight goal. Excess weight puts unwanted pressure on joints such as knees and exacerbates arthritis. Lighten the load and you may be able to move freely once again.

Those perks are only the beginning. Weight-loss surgery can improve many  medical conditions, including:

  • Diabetes – Excess bulk, and the hormonal changes that come with it, make many people produce less insulin than their bodies need. That issue often dissipates once patients lose weight.
  • Sleep apnea – Once you have less bulk in the neck area, your airway will be clearer and you’ll be able to breathe more easily. You may jolt yourself awake less often, reducing or eliminating the need for a CPAP machine.
  • Migraines – Those crippling headaches, along with side effects like nausea and light sensitivity, can be caused by excess fat putting pressure on the brain. Decrease the fat, and your problem may end.
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) – Extra pounds tend to raise your blood pressure, so losing weight can lower it. What’s more, you won’t eat as much after bariatric surgery, so you’ll be consuming less salt. Lower salt consumption leads to lower blood pressure.
  • CancerStudies show that obesity increases the chances of colon, rectal and breast cancers, among others. Again, less body fat works in your favor.

Women find additional benefits. Obesity affects hormones, and can in fact lead to lower fertility rates and polycystic ovarian syndrome. At a much lower weight, your fertility might increase, and you are likely to have fewer ovary-related issues.

Challenges of Bariatric Surgery

While the benefits of weight-loss surgery are immense, they do come with some challenges. After having surgery, you must commit to eating small portions of food for the rest of your life. Loose skin is another concern. Obesity stretches skin, and if you shed 100 or more pounds, you likely will find you have excess skin.. You can eventually have that fixed via another surgery, called body contouring.

The other challenges are minor in comparison, but it’s best to be aware of them before making your final decision.

  • Food intolerance – Smaller stomachs produce fewer of the secretions that break down food for digestion. As a result, you might feel uncomfortable after eating certain items. Red meat is the most common offender.
  • Mega-vitamins – You might not absorb crucial vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat as well as you used to post-surgery, plus you’ll be eating less food overall. For those reasons, you might need to take specially a formulated multivitamin filled with micronutrients every day to have a nutritionally balanced intake. Calcium, iron, and vitamins D and B12 are especially important, according to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
  • Soft drinks are a hard no – The chemicals and bubbles in carbonated sodas are a detriment to bariatric patients’ systems. Switch to juices and flavored waters.
  • Alcoholic beverages – For a period of time post-surgery, you’ll need to keep away from wine, beer and other spirits.

Yes, It’s Worthwhile To Have Bariatric Surgery

You’ll say so-long to soda and pop an unpleasant pill once a day. You might not love that. But the

psychological benefits of moving freely, being healthy and feeling good about yourself – those far outweigh the inconveniences. All of these improvements are positive forces that will make you happier and your daily life better.

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