Over one-third of the U.S. population struggles with obesity. Obesity is a disease that greatly reduces quality of life and can lead to other serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. For those who are struggling with obesity, many medical treatments are available to help restore quality of life and overall health.
One of those life-saving procedures is gastric bypass surgery, which can help people by improving mobility, lessening the risk of other diseases, and helping with emotional and physical health. Here are six ways (among many others) this life-changing surgery can help:
Gastric Bypass Surgery Can Put Diabetes Into Remission
Diabetes is considered an “incurable” disease, but gastric bypass surgery can actually put the disease into long-term remission. A recent study showed that a number of patients who received weight-loss surgery were diabetes-free just five years after surgery.
Dr. Francesco Rubino of Kings College London led the study, which took 20 obese patients with type 2 diabetes and performed gastric bypass surgery. An additional 20 patients were treated with medication only, and an additional 20 received a different weight loss surgery. After five years, a full 80 percent of those who had surgery were able to control their diabetes with just one medication or none at all. Additionally, half of the patients maintained remission for diabetes after five years.
While this cannot be called a “cure” yet, this is the longest study into the benefits of gastric bypass surgery for diabetic patients, and it showed great potential for long-term remission. Other studies have found that the surgery reduces the risk of developing diabetes among those patients who are not yet diabetic, but are obese and at high risk for developing the condition. In fact, some doctors have begun calling the surgery “diabetes surgery” because of these excellent results.
Gastric Bypass Surgery Reduces Heart Disease Risk
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death among obese individuals. Obesity has been linked to arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and heart attack. Gastric bypass surgery has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and even improve existing cardiovascular disease, in a large number of patients.
One study that looked into this was the Swedish Obese Subjects study. The study’s leaders found that five years after surgery, cardiovascular disease risk dropped by 72 percent. In the 10 years after study, participants had favorable cardiovascular parameters, indicating a decreased risk of future cardiovascular disease.
Gastric Bypass Surgery Reduces Other Obesity-Related Diseases
Cardiovascular disease and diabetes are the most concerning diseases connected with obesity. However, obesity can also cause migraines, polycystic ovarian syndrome, stress urinary incontinence, acid reflux, fatty liver disease, venous stasis disease, and asthma. Gastric bypass surgery, and resulting weight loss, can reduce these problems significantly. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine found between 70 and 90 percent resolution of these symptoms in patients who had gastric bypass surgery.
Gastric Bypass Reduces Joint Pain
Individuals who suffer from obesity may struggle with chronic joint problems. The additional weight puts added pressure on joints, irritating existing problems or creating new ones. Gastric bypass surgery can lessen the stress on these joints and help relieve some of this pain. This, in turn, can increase mobility and overall quality of life. A 2004 study showed that patients who underwent weight loss surgery reported half the number of painful joints in the first year after surgery. Additionally, surgery has been shown to reduce chronic inflammation found in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
If a patient’s joint pain is significant and the degeneration serious, doctors may recommend joint replacement. Two separate studies, presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, found that patients who have weight loss surgery prior to joint replacement surgery had better outcomes than those who did not.
Gastric Bypass Surgery Initiates Weight Loss
Of course, the primary reason people have gastric bypass surgery is for weight loss, and that is definitely an effect of the procedure. The Cleveland Clinic report indicates that patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery have a 62 percent reduction in excess weight, which is the weight above the patient’s ideal body weight. This is an average, and some patients will experience even greater weight loss than this.
Improved Life Expectancy
Reducing diabetes risk, improving cardiovascular health, and reducing excess weight all add up to an increase in life expectancy. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that in the first one to five years after surgery, morbidity rates decreased significantly. After 10 years, an even larger life span was expected. The Cleveland Clinic found that surgery reduced five-year mortality for obese patients by 89 percent.
How Can Gastric Bypass Surgery Help You?
Obesity is a serious disease that can cause many quality-of-life issues, reduce life expectancy, and decrease overall health. It is connected with many other diseases, and can be difficult to fight without help. Gastric bypass surgery provides help for those struggling with this debilitating disease. This surgical option helps people regain their lives, improve their health, and support new healthy lifestyles.