Better Me

5 Medical Conditions That May Improve with Bariatric Surgery

Obesity is a global health problem, affecting one billion people worldwide

If you’ve tried other weight loss methods without success, bariatric surgery might be a helpful option. It not only helps you lose excess weight but also tackles health issues related to obesity.

“Bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery) is still the only long-term solution for obesity, providing lasting results and benefits to many people,” said Farah Husain, MD, a bariatric surgeon with Banner – University Medicine. 

Read on to understand more about bariatric surgery and how it might help you lose weight and improve your overall health and well-being.

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery is a medical procedure that changes how your digestive system works to help you lose weight. There are several types of surgery, but the three most common are gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy and gastric banding.

“Each surgery type has a different approach to reducing the stomach size and altering the digestive tract,” said Dr. Husain. “This helps your hormones change, making it harder to eat large meals, helps you feel full sooner and balances some hormones like insulin, which is involved in weight control.”

What is the link between obesity and chronic health conditions?

Excess weight can change how your body works and cause inflammation, which can lead to different health problems like type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, joint pain, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

“Carrying extra weight may strain the heart, lungs and joints,” said Dr. Husain. “With weight loss, patients may see their diabetes improve, their heart work easier, their blood pressure lower and they may have less joint and back pain.”

Five health conditions that may improve with weight loss surgery

Type 2 diabetes

Obesity can make it hard for insulin to do its job (insulin resistance) and control your blood sugar. This can lead to type 2 diabetes. Procedures like gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy may make diabetes better or even put it in remission.

“Many patients notice an improvement in their blood sugar levels and experience a significant reduction in their need for diabetes medication,” said Dr. Husain.

Sleep apnea

If you carry extra weight, especially around the neck, it can block your airway when you’re asleep, making it difficult to breathe. After surgery, this pressure on the airway decreases, helping to improve sleep quality

Joint pain

Carrying extra weight puts added pressure on your joints, like the knees and hips. This increased pressure can cause joint pain and lead to osteoarthritis over time. 

“Surgery and weight loss can take away some of the stress on your joints,” said Dr. Husain. “This can ease joint pain and slow the progression of osteoarthritis, giving you a chance for better movement and a more comfortable, active lifestyle.”

Heart disease and stroke

When you carry more weight your heart has to work harder, putting you at greater risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke

“With weight loss surgery, the heart can work easier and lead to lower blood pressure and improvement of other heart diseases, such as irregular heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation,” said Dr. Husain.

Other medical conditions

In addition to other conditions, bariatric surgery may help with fatty liver diseases like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, mental health, pregnancy complications (infertility), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and gallbladder disease. It may even reduce your risk of certain cancers and early death.

Does bariatric surgery have any risks?

Compared to living with obesity and health-related complications like diabetes and sleep apnea, the risks of bariatric surgery are minimal.

“There are the risk of complications like bleeding or leakage,” said Dr. Husain. “But an accredited bariatric center and team are well prepared to treat those issues if they arise.”

Some other potential risks include dumping syndrome, developing kidney stones and transfer additions, like alcohol or gambling.

However, most people who undergo bariatric surgery and commit to weight loss see significant improvements in their overall health.

Is bariatric surgery right for me?

Have you tried and struggled with weight loss? Is your weight causing other medical problems? If you answer yes to these problems and your body mass index (BMI) is over 35, you should consider speaking to a bariatric team.

“The bariatric surgery process is not short,” Dr. Husain said. “It’s long and takes work. But with a skilled bariatric team by your side, they can help ensure your long-term success.”

Learn more about whether or not you’d be a good candidate.

Bottom line

Bariatric surgery is more than just weight loss. It’s a gateway to a healthier, more fulfilling life. If you’re struggling with conditions like type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease and/or joint pain, these procedures offer a path to better health.

Talk to your health care provider or a Banner Health bariatric specialist to understand if you could benefit from this surgery.

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