16 Health Problems That Bariatric Surgery Can Improve

Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery, or surgical weight loss, is about more than losing weight. For people who have more than 50 pounds to lose or are obese, weight loss surgery can also dramatically improve many secondary health issues.

Health Conditions That May Improve or Disappear After Weight Loss Surgery

Here is a look at 16 health conditions that can improve (or resolve completely) with the significant weight loss most patients experience after bariatric surgery, including procedures such as gastric sleeve , gastric bypass or biliopancreatic diversion with a duodenal switch.


Asthma – 82% improved or resolved. There is a connection between asthma and being overweight. Most excess weight is stored in the midsection, where it reduces lung volume and inhibits a person’s ability to breathe freely. Also, the foods that contribute to obesity—sugars and starches—also contribute to inflammation in the lungs, triggering asthma symptoms. Obesity can also cause acid reflux, which can irritate the airway and trigger asthma. Weight loss and lifestyle changes can alleviate the triggers and symptoms of asthma.


Cardiovascular Disease – 82% risk reduced. Obesity causes heart disease in several ways: It can cause high cholesterol, high blood pressure (increasing the risk of heart failure), and diabetes—all of which contribute to heart problems. Losing weight with bariatric surgery improves the heart’s ability to pump blood and also to relax. Weight loss reduces the thickness of the heart muscle tissue and artery walls, leading to a healthier heart with better function.


Type 2 Diabetes – 83% Resolved. Excess weight and obesity put you at higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes—90% of people with this type of diabetes are overweight. With this type of diabetes, the body produces enough insulin, but the excess weight makes the muscle and tissue cells resistant to the action of insulin. Losing significant weight, changing your diet and also exercising can help reverse this condition, or at least eliminate the need for medication.


High Blood Pressure or Hypertension – 42%-66% resolved & 52%-92% risk reduced. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, refers to the pressure blood applies to the inner walls of a person’s arteries. Excess weight, particularly in the abdominal area, increases fatty tissue and impacts the pressure in the arteries. This increases a person’s vascular resistance and makes their heart work harder to pump blood through their body. Heart disease risk also increases if a person has “abdominal obesity” and high blood pressure. Losing weight can reduce blood pressure and lower associated heart disease risk as well.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea – 74%-98% improved. Obesity is a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition is caused by soft tissue of the mouth and throat causing blockage in the airway during sleep, when throat and tongue muscles are relaxed. Losing 10% or more of body weight can reduce the excess tissue in the airways, thus reducing sleep apnea symptoms. In some cases, more significant weight loss can resolve the condition altogether.


Stress Urinary Incontinence – 44%-88% resolved. Obesity can cause urinary incontinence, because excess weight and fatty tissue place added pressure on the bladder, weakening your pelvic floor muscles and making leakage more likely. Leaky bladder symptoms can improve or even resolve completely after you lose the excess weight.


Joint Pain (Osteoarthritis/Degenerative Joint Disease) – 41%-76% resolved. Excess weight makes it more difficult to move around and it puts more weight on your joints and spine. One pound of excess weight exerts four pounds of additional pressure on your knees and hips. This can lead to joint pain and joint disorders, such as osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease. Weight loss can’t completely reverse arthritis, but it can prevent further damage and help arthritic joints feel a lot better.


Fatty Liver Disease (nonalcoholic) – 90% improved (steatosis); 37% reduction of inflammation; 27% reduction of fibrosis. Obesity can lead to a range of liver problems known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Associated problems include an increase in steatosis (intrahepatic triglyceride content), inflammation, and fibrosis (steatohepatitis). The primary treatment for these issues is weight loss, which leads to direct improvements in associated abnormalities.


Vein Problems (Venous Stasis Disease) – 95% resolved. Being overweight or obese is linked to higher rates of venous disease, most likely because excess weight leads to increased pressure on veins in the lower extremities and decreased blood flow back to the heart. The result is chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Losing weight can alleviate the pressure on the veins, improving blood flow.


Gout – 77% resolved. Carrying excess pounds raises insulin levels in the body, which raises uric acid levels. This leads to a build-up of uric acid crystals in your kidneys and around your joints. Since obesity makes your body less efficient at eliminating uric acid, you are more likely to experience painful gout flare-ups. Losing weight can reduce these flare-ups, and can also improve associated problems with insulin and high cholesterol, among others.


Metabolic Syndrome – 80% resolved. This syndrome involves several co-occurring and interrelated cardiovascular risk factors, including obesity, hypertension, and insulin resistance, among others. Losing weight, eating better and becoming more active are the best ways to manage or resolve metabolic syndrome and improve your overall health. For those who find it difficult to lose weight through diet and exercise, a bariatric procedure may be recommended.


Migraines – 57% resolved. Many people don’t realize that the risk of migraines increases with weight gain—obesity often co-occurs with episodic or chronic migraines. Losing weight, shifting to a healthier diet and getting more aerobic exercise are often prescribed as critical tools for managing migraines. Conversely, obesity and lack of exercise can increase the risk of headache attacks by up to 50%.


Depression – 55% resolved. Depression and anxiety are two mental health conditions associated with overeating, poor food choices, and a sedentary lifestyle. Over time, the depressed individual is likely to gain weight. Complicating matters is the fact that the medications prescribed to treat depression and anxiety can cause weight gain as a side effect. If depression, anxiety and disordered eating patterns are triggered by chronic stress, therapy aimed at stress reduction can help. Surgical weight loss can help boost weight loss, improving poor self-image, low self-esteem and the social isolation and associated sadness.


Pseudotumor Cerebri (idiopathic intracranial hypertension/IIH) – 96% resolved. IIH is characterized by symptoms that mimic a brain tumor—chronic headaches experienced as high pressure inside the skull, and vision changes (i.e., double vision). IIH is most often seen in obese young women. If the IIH is associated with weight gain, surgical weight loss may be recommended to help treat the condition, sometimes along with medication.


Dyslipidemia Hypercholesterolemia – 63% resolved. Being overweight and eating a high-fat diet can raise blood cholesterol levels, particularly the bad cholesterol (LDL). The elevated blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels of dyslipidemia can cause atherosclerosis, a build-up of cholesterol plaque in the arteries—a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Losing weight and switching to a healthy diet can help resolve dyslipidemia.


Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – 100% resolution of dysfunction; 79% resolution of hirsutism. PCOS is a reproductive condition in women characterized by irregular menstrual cycles, hirsutism (hairiness) and infertility. Roughly 40%-80% of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. Women who have PCOS either produce too much insulin, or the insulin they produce doesn’t function normally, causing weight gain. Significant weight loss can restore the normal ovary function and hormone production, and improve other PCOS symptoms.

It is estimated that 89% of patients who have reduced their weight with bariatric surgery also have a reduction in their 5-year mortality rate. And, 95% of bariatric patients experience improved quality of life after surgery. For the best outcome, it is critical to work with an expert surgeon who has performed hundreds of successful bariatric procedures. Patients who dedicate themselves to closely following their doctor’s post-op guidelines for nutrition, exercise and self-care measures tend to reap the greatest benefits after bariatric surgery. Are you ready to take the first step toward improved health and a slimmer new you?

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