Weight-Loss Surgery Options

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Natalia Casas, Staff Writer

Natalia Casas is a bilingual (English-Spanish) writer whose work has appeared in magazines and on websites across Latin America and the United States. Her areas of expertise include fashion, health, lifestyles, travel, and self-improvement. She is a professional English-to-Spanish translator and holds a mass communication and journalism degree from Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in MedellĂ­n, Colombia.


January 28 2008

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Weight-loss surgery. Three simple words that combined have become sort of a miracle to hundreds of obese and morbidly obese people all over America and the world. In a nutshell, weight-loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, changes the anatomy of the digestive system to limit the amount of food that can be eaten and/or digested.

But not every obese person can opt for this procedure. Men who are 100 pounds overweight and women who are at least 80 pounds overweight are the ideal candidates for weight loss surgery. What has obese people asking for this procedure is not only the possibility of losing all the extra pounds, but also the possibility of reducing the risks of other medical problems associated with obesity.

Obesity or morbid obesity is linked to serious health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux, and sleep apnea. Weight-loss surgery, followed by the proper medical care and ongoing behavioral changes helps to control and in some cases eliminate those issues. Professor Paul O'Brien, Director of Melbourne's Monash University's Centre of Obesity Research and Education, said that "obesity surgery not only saves lives, but it saves public money also. This surgery cures and prevents many serious diseases, including cancers, diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea and joint problems."

Liposuction Surgery vs. Weight-Loss Surgery

Liposuction surgery is a great option to lose unwanted, stubborn pockets of fat but isn't actually weight-loss surgery. The procedure works best in localized areas of the body, such as abdomen, thighs and arms and only for small amounts of weight, up to about 10 pounds.

Weight-loss surgery (gastric bypass, biliopancreatic diversion, Lap-Band®, etc.) is, on the other hand, considered the best and only way to achieve long-term, consistent weight loss from all over the body, when medications and appropriate diet and exercise haven't worked in the past.

Fortunately for obese and morbidly obese people, most health insurance companies usually cover the weight-loss surgery when the person meets guidelines of the American Association of Bariatric Surgeons and the National Institutes of Health. People considering weight-loss surgery must be aware that a special diet is needed after the surgery, and that they may need cosmetic surgeries after weight loss surgery that are not covered by medical insurance.

After Weight Reduction Surgery

There are operative and long-term risks associated with obesity surgery. That is why it is extremely important to listen to the recommendations of the surgeon and be under strict medical supervision. During the 6 months after the surgery, the body experiences many changes, due to the extreme weight loss that occurs. Body aches, fatigue, dry skin, and mood changes are some of the symptoms.

The patient may end up with a complete new body and attitude, but also with saggy skin and loose muscles. This is when a board-certified plastic surgeon can help. Extra skin around the abdomen and midsection can be eliminated with a tummy tuck, and saggy skin in the arms with a brachioplasty (arm lift). Although insurance won't cover these cosmetic surgery procedures, they can be a vital part of the process of becoming a new person.

Different studies show that most people are able to keep off 48% to 74% of their excess weight after any type of weight-loss surgery. All these success stories are the result of proper care after surgery, care that includes medical precautions and behavioral changes. Ultimately, the success of a weight loss surgery depends on the person, and the will to be healthy and feel good about them once and for all.