It’s no secret that obesity carries significant health risk. Not only are many everyday tasks more difficult for obese persons, but obesity itself increases the risk of developing many deadly yet preventable diseases. Most people know about the link between obesity and type 2 diabetes, but diabetes isn’t the only thing that obese patients need to concern themselves with.
Fortunately, bariatric surgery is an excellent option for not only losing large amounts of weight, but also reducing the risk of developing certain conditions. Best of all, many bariatric surgery patients have noted that their obesity-related conditions have gone into remission or even disappeared completely, regardless of actual weight loss!
So what are these issues, why are they related to obesity, and what can bariatric surgery do for patients who are dealing with them? Let’s find out.
Problems Stemming From Obesity
It’s important to note that obesity itself is a health risk factor. Although health cannot be determined by looking at weight alone, an obese person would almost certainly be healthier if they were in a healthy weight range. In general, it’s better to be overweight than obese, and it’s better to be at a health weight than to be overweight. This is not a philosophical stance or an opinion: this is a fact supported by medical science and proven over and over again as more Americans die of preventable health-related causes.
Health Problems Caused By Obesity
Joint pain. Heavier people put more pressure on their joints when they move. This pressure causes joint pain due to the cartilage in the joint wearing down. Joint pain can get to the point where the patient is completely unable to walk, relying instead on mobility carts to get around.
Difficulty breathing. Excess fat tissue can encroach on the internal organs, making normal functions much harder. The lungs are no different. Although the lungs are protected by the rib cage, they’re not safe from the pressure put on them by visceral fat tissue.
Sleep apnea. Obese people are more likely to develop sleep apnea due to fat accumulating around the neck. This fat puts pressure on, and can block, the airway during sleep. The result is sleep apnea, which is best treated by sleeping with a CPAP machine.
Health Risks Associated With Obesity
High blood pressure. There are several mechanisms by which obesity influences blood pressure levels, but the evidence is clear: obesity increases the risk of developing high blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to serious cardiac events that can result in death.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Type 2 diabetes is probably the most well-known comorbidity, and the reason for this is simple. Type 2 diabetes is most often caused by cells becoming more resistant to insulin. Insulin is a compound that helps regulate glucose, an important part of organic chemical reactions. Blood glucose levels are regulated by insulin, and if the cells are resistant to insulin, blood glucose levels are harder to regulate! Fat cells have been shown to affect insulin sensitivity, and the result is type 2 diabetes.
How Bariatric Surgery Helps
Bariatric surgeries like gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, lap-band & orbera balloon surgery changes the patient’s digestive system to do two things: reduce a patient’s proclivity to eat, and prevent a patient’s ability to digest large amounts of food at a time. The result is dramatic weight loss in the vast majority of patients.
This dramatic weight loss, when done in a controlled environment supervised by a doctor, can have wonderful health benefits. Patients report being able to walk again, seeing their sleep apnea disappear completely, and have been able to get off their blood pressure medication!
Even in patients that don’t lose a large amount of weight, they may find that their lower food consumption helps regulate their blood sugar.
For many patients, bariatric surgery is a last resort. A severely obese (BMI of 35+) person in their 40s does not have a very good prognosis for the future. Many bariatric surgery patients decide to take this approach because it’s a life or death situation. If you want to learn more about bariatric surgery and how it can change your life, give us a call and we’ll schedule a consultation for you!