Bariatric Surgery Results

Bariatric surgery has helped many obese individuals lose excess weight and improve their overall health and quality of life. It is considered an effective treatment for obesity, as well as for certain health conditions associated with obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, and obstructive sleep apnea. Bariatric surgery can achieve great weight loss results and provide many health and social benefits to bariatric patients.

Weight Loss Results

Bariatric surgery can result in substantial and sustainable weight loss results. The rate of weight loss and amount of lost excess weight will vary from patient to patient, but overall the weight loss results are significant and life-changing after having bariatric surgery. The use of bariatric surgery is considered the only permanent treatment for morbid obesity (100 pounds or more over healthy weight), according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).

  • Diet and exercise alone achieve an average long-term weight loss of only 10 percent
  • Gastric bypass surgery averages 60% excess weight loss after 5 years
  • LAP-BAND surgery averages 55% excess weight loss after 5 years
  • Duodenal switch surgery averages 60-80% excess weight loss

Although bariatric surgery helps with weight loss, many individuals struggle with weight gain and have difficulty keeping the weight off. According to some estimates, about 95% of bariatric patients are able to maintain long-term weight loss, but 5% of bariatric patients gain back the weight.

Open vs. Laparoscopic Bariatic Surgery 2003 Chart
Source: Systematic Review, Professor Paul O'Brien, Centre for Obesity Research and Education

Health Benefits of Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery not only treats obesity, but it treats many other serious health conditions as well. The health benefits of bariatric surgery and resulting weight loss has been shown to improve or resolve the following health conditions:

  • Ankle swelling
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Depression
  • GERD (Acid Reflux)
  • Gout
  • Heart failure (obesity-related)
  • Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol and high triglycerides)
  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
  • Lymphedema
  • Infertility (obesity-related)
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Migraines
  • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Obesity
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Premature Death
  • Skin infections and skin rashes
  • Stress Urinary Incontinence
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Venous Stasis Disease

Benefits to Life Expectancy and Quality of Life

Life expectancy increases and quality of life improves for most individuals after having bariatric surgery and loss of excess weight. Obesity reduces a person’s life span by 13 - 20 years; losing the weight with the help of bariatric surgery not only prolongs life, but it allows individuals the opportunity to live a happier, healthier, and more active life.

Follow-up studies have found that overall quality of life improves in 95% of obese individuals after bariatric surgery. Weight loss:

  • Improves a person’s ability to participate in physical and recreational activities
  • Improves social and economic opportunities
  • Improves sense of well being
  • Saves money in medical costs due to obesity and related health conditions
  • Reduces amount of lost wages due to obesity related illness

Steps to Weight Loss Success

Bariatric surgery is an effective tool for promoting weight loss due to obesity, but it is not a quick fix or a magic cure. The amount of excess weight lost and the permanence of that weight loss is affected by many factors and choices. To lose weight, it requires commitment from the individual to following the dietary guidelines set by the bariatric surgeon and/or nutritional counselor, as well as making lifelong changes in lifestyle actions and habits.

Factors affecting weight loss success:

  • Diet: portion control and eating healthy foods
  • Exercise: participation in physical activities and exercise
  • Support: participate in bariatric support groups or weight loss surgery forums for motivation and support
  • Nutritional Counseling: to learn healthier ways of eating
  • Emotional Counseling: to deal with the emotional and mental aspects of food addiction, obesity, and weight loss surgery
  • Weight Loss Goals: setting goals and monitoring weight loss progress

Other factors which may influence the rate of weight loss or the amount of excess weight loss are the patient’s age, weight and/or BMI (body mass index) prior to surgery, type of bariatric surgery (restrictive or malabsorptive), patient’s health, ability to exercise after surgery, adherence to diet and nutrition guidelines, and overall motivation and determination to lose weight and keep it off.

Measuring Weight Loss Success

Medical professionals usually measure the success of bariatric surgery by the amount of excess weight loss that an individual achieves. If a bariatric patient achieves a loss of 50% or more of their excess body weight, and maintains the weight loss for a period of 5 years, treatment is considered successful. Health benefits are often seen even before weight loss goals are reached.

In general, bariatric patients lose about 30% - 50% of their excess body weight by six months after surgery. At twelve to eighteen months after surgery, weight loss is about 75% of excess body weight. The rate of weight loss will vary between the restrictive and malabsorptive bariatric procedures and between patients, but generally the most weight loss occurs during the first eighteen months after surgery.

Bariatric Surgeons
Long-term weight loss following laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery is approximately 60% to 70% over 5 years.