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The Benefits of Bariatric Surgery

When diet and exercise fail, bariatric surgery can be a lifesaver for the more than 60 million Americans who are considered obese.

It's easy to change the style or color of your hair, the color of your finger or toenails and even your eye color. But one thing that some people want to change about themselves is their weight, and sometimes that’s not so easy. I caught up with Dr. J. Stephen Scott, a weight loss surgeon with Des Peres Hospital's MyNewSelf Surgical Weight Loss Program, to talk about the benefits of bariatric -- or weight loss -- surgery. 

"Bariatric surgery is a term that includes various types of procedures aimed at restricting food intake and/or causing food to pass through the gastrointestinal tract without being fully absorbed or digested," said Dr. Scott.

The primary benefit of bariatric surgery is obvious, points out Scott: weight loss.

"Bariatric surgery has been shown to have more consistent results than lifestyle counseling and prescriptions," he said. "Remember though, bariatric surgery requires significant lifestyle changes and ongoing patient commitment."

Bariatric surgery is known to be the most effective and long-lasting treatment for morbid obesity and many related conditions, but Scott noted that now evidence suggests weight loss surgery may be among the most effective treatments for metabolic diseases and conditions including Type II diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and obstructive sleep apnea. Below are the percentages of patients who saw these changes following their procedure:
• Diabetes: Resolved in 77%
• Hypertension: Resolved in 52-92%
• High Cholesterol: Reduced in 70%
• High Blood Pressure: Resolved in 62% and reduced in 79%
• Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: 90% improved steatosis. 37% resolution of inflammation. 2-% resolution of fibrosis.
• Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Resolved in 86% 

In addition, a 2012 study found that bariatric surgery may reduce the risk of developing Type II diabetes in the first place.  Over 15 years, the study found that only 13 percent of people who'd had weight-loss (bariatric) surgery developed type 2 diabetes vs. 38 percent of those who didn't have surgery.

Other improvements that have been documented are an increase in energy and self-esteem and improvement of arthritis, asthma and depression symptoms, allowing many people to decrease the amount of medications they take to treat these conditions.

Overall, bariatric surgery can provide an improved quality of life. Ninety-five percent of patients said their quality of life improved following the procedure. Some studies also suggest that people live longer after bariatric surgery, compared to equally obese people who do not have surgery.

Though there are many benefits to bariatric surgery, Dr. Scott noted the procedure does have significant risks, and it is not right for everyone.  To learn more about bariatric surgery and who is a candidate, visit www.mynewselfbariatrics.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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