Health Tip: Benefits and Risks of Gastric Bypass

Weigh pros and cons before surgery

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(HealthDay News) -- Though it continues to grow in popularity among the severely obese, gastric bypass surgery should not be taken lightly.

Anyone thinking about this surgery should understand what the operation involves. Patients and physicians should carefully weigh these benefits and risks, suggested by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:

Benefits

  • Right after surgery, most patients lose weight quickly and continue to lose it for 18 to 24 months after the procedure, although most patients regain 5 percent to 10 percent of the weight they lost.
  • Surgery improves most obesity-related conditions, such as diabetes.

Risks

  • Up to 20 percent of patients who have weight-loss surgery require follow-up operations to correct complications. Abdominal hernia once was the most common complication requiring follow-up surgery, but laparoscopic techniques seem to have solved this problem.
  • Some obese patients who have had weight-loss surgery develop gallstones. During rapid or substantial weight loss, a person's risk of developing gallstones increases. Taking supplemental bile salts for the first six months after surgery can prevent them from forming.
  • Nearly 30 percent of patients who have weight-loss surgery develop nutritional deficiencies such as anemia, osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease. These deficiencies can be avoided with the proper vitamins and minerals.
  • Women of childbearing age should avoid pregnancy until their weight becomes stable. Rapid weight loss and nutritional deficiencies can harm a developing fetus.

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