Weight loss surgery isn’t just for looks. It can treat a whole host of medical conditions, including diabetes and high blood pressure.
If you are overweight — 80 pounds or more for women, 100 pounds or more for men, you may qualify for weight loss surgery. You may also be a candidate if you struggle with diabetes, heart disease or sleep apnea. How might weight loss surgery be able to help you get certain chronic conditions under control?
Two recent studies showed that obese or overweight patients with type 2 diabetes who underwent a weight loss procedure fared better than those who stuck to diet, exercise and medicine only.
“Gastric bypass is shown to have a direct effect on metabolism and is shown to have a positive effect for those with diabetes even before weight loss occurs,” said Sina Matin, MD, medical director of weight loss at the weight loss surgery center at Baylor Regional Medical Center – Grapevine.
That’s because the surgery changes the way your body processes food, meaning you don’t absorb all the fat and calories you eat. Many patients are able to stop most or all diabetes medications.
According to Manuel Castro, MD, medical director of weight loss surgery on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, excess weight forces the heart to work harder, which is why high blood pressure and obesity often go hand in hand.
The reverse is also true — a lower number when you step on the scale can equal a lower number when you put on the blood pressure cuff.
“Management becomes easier, and most people can stop most blood pressure medications,” Dr. Matin said.
And as the pounds come off, weight loss surgery patients find that exercise — a major factor in lowering your blood pressure — becomes easier.
Not only can weight loss surgery take the pain out of your joints (by lessening the amount of pressure placed on them), but it also can delay the need for a joint replacement.
“And once a person gets a knee replacement, for example, it lasts longer,” Dr. Matin said.
The list of medical conditions that can be treated by weight loss surgery goes on and on, and also includes high cholesterol levels, sleep apnea, acid reflux, some cases of urinary incontinence and certain types of migraines. It can lower your risk of cancer, heart attack and stroke, and even out hormonal imbalances, too, Dr. Castro said.
And let’s not forget how weight loss affects the way we see ourselves and our quality of life.
“Weight loss surgery patients gain the ability to travel again, to go places,” Dr. Matin said. “They have the ability to do things in society that were limited before.”
Is it your time to lose? For more information on the weight loss surgery program at Baylor Dallas, call 1.844.BSW.DOCS.
This content originally appeared in the March 2013 edition of Baylor Health magazine.