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Weight Loss Surgery – Is It Right For Me?

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The number of resources available for overweight people has exploded in recent years, with new techniques in weight loss surgery heading the list. Many of those who choose surgery as the answer to their obesity problems find that the procedure is a life-changing step. Yet, most top medical professionals will advise an individual to consider weight loss surgery as a last option, after trying diet changes and appropriate exercise.

In fact, people who ask about weight loss surgery are generally not considered candidates for the procedure until they have tried other forms of treatment and failed to get satisfactory results. If an individual comes to the point in life when surgery is the only option left, there are some guidelines to be aware of. The most commonly used method is body mass index (BMI). It is the method widely used by researchers to set obesity levels, and is determined by dividing a person’s weight by height.

For example, a person 70 inches tall (5’10”) who weights 270 pounds has a BMI of 39. The National Institutes of Health identify overweight as a BMI of 25 to 29.9 and obesity as a BMI of 30 or greater. With this in mind, candidates for weight loss surgery include those who have a BMI of 40 or more, or a BMI of 35 to 40 and a health risk such as type 2 diabetes or severe sleep apnea. Other guidelines can include an extremely high body mass index, obesity that exists for five or more years, no history of alcohol or drug abuse, and no untreated psychiatric disorder. Weight loss surgery is usually restricted to those between 18 and 65 years of age.

When discussing weight loss surgery with a medical professional, it would be best to understand that there are several types of surgery used to address obesity problems. Basically, the surgical choices include: restrictive surgery that limits food intake; malabsorptive procedures that isolate the small intestine from the digestive tract; and a combination of the two types. (Medical professionals are now advising against malabsorptive operations due to the risk of severe nutrition deficiencies.) Gastric bypass surgery is more complex, while laparoscopic surgery (lap banding) is less invasive. There are also procedures that remove excess skin and fat in the abdominal area (Panniculectomy).

Gastric bypass surgery limits the amount of food you eat and digest. It is considered by many to be the safest method, with the fewest complications. But the surgery does not eliminate the need for a proper diet and appropriate physical activity. As professionals at Mayo Clinic emphasize, “It's always best to lose weight through a healthy diet and regular physical activity.” However, if you have tried to lose weight this way and have had no success, weight loss surgery may be an option.




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