One in three American adults are obese, meaning that there are about 58 million obese people in America. There are many health risks associated with obesity, particularly morbid obesity, as well as a severe reduction in overall life expectancy. Being obese increases the chance of developing conditions such as, amongst others, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, conditions which can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Obesity is a complex medical disorder, and contributing factors can include genetics, psychological factors and lifestyle. Bariatric surgery, otherwise known as weight-loss surgery, provides treatment for individuals with chronic weight problems, for those who have tried to lose weight but cannot, and want to maintain a new and healthy lifestyle without the health risks of obesity. The surgery reduces health risks, improves mobility, restores self-confidence and self-esteem, and improves long-term survival too. Bariatric surgery is the generalized term describing any number of surgical weight-loss procedures, which are often used in conjunction with one another for the desired effect. The two principal weight-loss surgery options are gastric band surgery, and gastric bypass surgery.
Gastric band surgery, sometimes known as ‘lap band’ surgery, involves the insertion of a ‘band’ around the stomach to decrease food intake. The procedure is very effective for surgical weight-loss, helping obese people achieve substantial and long-term weight loss. Meanwhile, gastric bypass surgery is the most common form of bariatric surgery and a highly effective weight loss surgery procedure. Through a gastric bypass, food will bypass the stomach and some of the intestine, meaning that less food is required to satisfy your appetite and fewer calories are absorbed. It is similar to gastric band surgery in that it creates a small pouch in the stomach, which is attached to part of the small intestine. This dual weight reducing effect means that – when combined with a supervised diet, increased exercise and behaviour modification – gastric bypass surgery could be the most-effective method of long-term weight loss. Following extreme weight-loss surgery, post-bariatric surgery is the general term used for the group of operations to deal with the excess skin, unwanted scars, stretch marks, residual fat and folds after massive weight loss. The commonest procedures include a form of abdominoplasty, thigh lifts, mastopexy, arm lifts, and total body-lifts (combination of tummy tuck, outer thigh lift and bottom lift).
Despite weight-loss surgery being quite an extreme procedure, this does not stop it from being popular, even amongst celebrities; Sharon Osbourne, Aretha Franklin and American Idol judge Randy Jackson have all undergone gastric bypass surgery, and have all seen amazing results. However it is important that weight-loss surgery is a fresh start; if patients do not control their diet, exercise and general lifestyle, they will put weight back on post-surgery. American singer and television host Carnie Wilson, for example, managed to lose half her weight after weight-loss surgery, but regained a lot of weight after surgery. Formerly obese people finally feel that they have conquered their stigmas after weight-loss surgery, and the surgery is often touted as the answer to ‘permanent weight-loss’, but weight cannot be kept off permanently if patients do not take care of themselves. After weight-loss surgery, the majority of patients experience a great increase in well-being and quality of life. As they lose weight, patients become capable of more physical activity which leads to better general health and lowers the obesity-related health risks.