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Who should have gastric bypass surgery?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
If you lose 100 pounds, you’ll gain 100% in self-confidence and health. You’ll dramatically reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke, normalize your blood sugar, slash cancer risks, ease or prevent osteoarthritis, and protect your brain from dementia. Not everyone can do it on their own, even with programs and support from friends and family, and weight-loss surgery is a solution for some. If you are currently at risk of life-threatening health problems because of your weight, it may be smart to opt for bariatric surgery.

The stomach-stapling (gastric bypass) procedure is for men who are more than 100 pounds overweight, women who are more than 80 pounds overweight, or people who are less overweight but who also have diabetes, heart disease, or sleep apnea. But this is not a “get healthy in an instant” scheme. To really get healthy long-term, after the surgery you have to change your eating patterns and get up and get moving.

Weight-loss surgery has other positives and negatives, too. It often cures sleep apnea, gastric reflux disease, and other ailments, and some studies indicate that afterward more than 60% of folks see normalized glucose levels. That said, more recent research indicates that only 41% of patients who had gastric bypass surgery, 26% who had gastric sleeve surgery (the surgical removal of part of the stomach), and 7% who had adjustable gastric banding were “cured” of diabetes long-term. It's also important to remember that any surgery has risks, from anesthesia risks and infection to unforeseen complications.

If you opt for weight-loss surgery (after going through a screening and making sure the doc you choose is a real pro at the procedure), you’ll also need to renovate your life the old fashioned way with food changes and exercise.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.