Published on January 15, 2016

Could weight loss surgery save your life?

Weight-loss surgery benefits go beyond what the eye can see.

If you are obese, surgery to lose weight may be safer than carrying around those extra pounds.

Tape MeasureIf you’re dealing with diabetes as well, weight loss surgery can send the disease into long-term remission. But is losing weight worth the risks associated with surgery? Take a look at the research.

Reducing Health Risks

A landmark study of bariatric surgery found that 10 to 15 years after having weight-loss surgery, obese patients were less likely to develop—and more likely to recover from—diabetes and other heart disease risk factors. These patients also showed an almost 25 percent reduction in death, compared with obese patients who didn’t have the procedure.

Weight loss surgery appears to improve the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels. It may even reverse type 2 diabetes. By helping you lose weight, it may also lower your risk for serious conditions such as heart disease and stroke.

“We’ve seen many patients go off of their diabetes medications and insulin shots after surgery and also as a result of healthier eating habits and a more physically active lifestyle,” said Prashanth Ramachandra, MD, director of the bariatrics program at Mercy Catholic Medical Center.

Balancing Benefits and Risks

Research has shown weight loss surgery to be an effective and safe treatment for severe obesity. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found the incidence of death and adverse events within 30 days after surgery was very low. It matched the rates seen with other major surgeries.

All four main kinds of weight loss surgery limit the amount of food you can eat or decrease the absorption of food, and some do both. Each type of surgery comes with its own risks and benefits, and doctors don’t agree on which is best.

Consider Your Candidacy

Weight loss surgery is typically recommended for adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater. If you have a serious health condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, you may want to look into surgery if your BMI is between 35 and 39.9. You can calculate your BMI on our website.