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Introduction

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery is the most effective method of treating obesity today. In essence, patients undergo a surgical procedure on their stomach and small intestine that makes them feel sated after consuming a smaller quantity of food,  resulting in the  consumption of fewer calories. In addition, bariatric surgery results in substantial changes to patients’ diet and behaviour in relation  to eating. Body weight is shed permanently, a number of concomitant diseases improve (type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea, high blood cholesterol etc) and life expectancy is extended. The key to any sort of successful treatment of obesity lies in the patient’s diet and lifestyle. Bariatric surgery gives patients a powerful tool to keep themselves on their chosen course.

Why bariatric surgery?

It is easy to lose weight – nearly all of us have done it. It is much more difficult and often impossible to keep the weight from returning (and we have all experienced this as well). Studies have shown that, in  a best-case scenario, an extended conservative course of treatment results in a 3-5% weight loss. Only one in seven patients manage to lose more than 10% and keep it off for more than one year. Adding medicines (Xenixal, Reductil and others) can result in a loss of 6-8% over the long term.

Bariatric surgery results in a major, permanent weight loss. For example, a Swedish SOS study revealed that patients operated on 15 years ago weighed an average of 27% less than they did before bypass surgery. While weight loss is very important, it is just one part of the story. Many diseases related to being overweight – type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea, hypertension, high cholesterol, coronary ischaemia, etc – also resolve or improve after bariatric surgery ,with very positive health benefits. As a result, patients who undergo surgery can expect to live longer than they  would have done  had they not been operated on . The primary decrease in mortality occurs in the categories of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

Is bariatric surgery right for me?

Bariatric surgery is indicated if your body mass index (BMI) is over 40 kg/m2, or  30-39.9kg/m2 if you have a concomitant disease linked to obesity (type II diabetes, arterial hypertension, cardiac ischaemia, sleep apnoea, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, degenerative joint diseases and infertility in women)

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