That’s the #1 question many have when making the decision whether or not to have surgery. Will it be worth it? Will it work for me?
Well, depending on what “working” means to you, there is good evidence that gastric bypass surgery has a very good chance of making a positive impact on your weight and your health.
Gastric Bypass Weight Loss Statistics
First of all, let’s look at the statistics on dieting alone. Dieters typically are able to lose about 10% of their overall body weight. For a 300 pound person, that equals about 30 pounds.
And as we’ve probably all experienced, about 95% of the time, they gain that weigh back and then some.
By contrast, Gastric Bypass Surgery has a high success rate, and patients lose an average of 62 to 68 percent of their excess body weight in the first year. Weight loss typically plateaus after one to two years, with an overall excess weight loss between 50 and 75 percent. For a person who is 120 pounds overweight, an average of 60 to 90 pounds of weight loss would be expected.
Most usually gain some of the weight back. This study followed 274 patients for an average of 11 years. They found that 34% had maintained a loss of 80% of their excess weight. Listing multiple other studies, they say that the average gastric bypass patient maintains a loss of between 50% and 75% of their excess weight 10 years after surgery.
If you weigh 300 pounds, and your perfect weight is say 145, on average you will weigh around 195 one year out, and around 180 by about 18 months. 10 years later, on average you’ll weigh between 183 and 222.
In other words, you most likely will not get supermodel skinny. You will, however, see a dramatic difference and improvement.
Of course, those figures are averages. Some people do much better, some much worse. It all depends on you, and how you use the tool gastric bypass surgery gives you. It is up to you to eat right and excercise, especially after the “honeymoon period” is over and your pouch doesn’t keep you so strictly on track.
Benefits Beyond Weight Loss
There is mounting evidence that gastric bypass surgery can bring a number of benefits in addition to weight loss.
With thanks to Suzanne, who originally posted this image at the Thinner Times Forum, here is a great illustration of how the benefits of gastric bypass can be felt over your entire body:
Reprinted with permission of The Cleveland Clinic Center for Medical Art & Photography © 2007. All Rights Reserved.
Some of the things I notice about the image and the article that accompanied it: The stats come from multiple studies, so there’s no set amount of time after surgery by which these improvements should have appeared. Also, I notice the image cites an 89% reduction in mortality, while the article I linked to says that reduction is in the mortality rate from morbid obesity. Big difference!
Other studies have found that:
- Gastric Bypass surgery increases libido in men. According to the study, the weight loss leads to an increase in testosterone levels, which make men feel more manly and ready to “play.” The entry linked to here also mentions another benefit to men that’s a little more, shall we say, personal.
- Bariatric Surgery resolves sexual dysfunction in women. Apparently being morbidly obese puts a kink in your sex drive. (REALLY?? who knew???). Massive weight loss can put the “kink” back in other, better ways…
- According to a segment on 60 Minutes, there is a very dramatic gastric bypass effect on diabetes and cancer.
- Some of the best proof that gastric bypass surgery has benefits beyond weight loss is the finding that insurance companies who cover gastric bypass recoup their costs in 2-4 years, because they no longer have to pay for the co-morbidities and other problems that the surgery resolves.
- Another study found that gastric bypass combats diabetes more dramatically than weight loss alone.
- This study found that gastric bypass surgery cuts the risk of heart attack or other “cardiovascular events”
- Is it possible that gastric bypass surgery will make you smarter? The article (Gastric Bypass Surgery May Make You Smarter) claims that gastric bypass surgery improved a patient’s ability to remember, to think through problems, and pay attention to details. But I forget why…
- According to this news story, (and some anectodal evidence from friends of mine) gastric bypass surgery can improve fertility.
- Another study found that pregnancy after bariatric surgery actually resulted in a lower instance of certain complications than that experienced by obese mothers. Rates of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure were almost as low among post-bariatric surgery patients as among expectant mothers who had never been obese.
Of course, these benefits are only half of the story when deciding whether you should have gastric bypass surgery. There are also risks, complications and unpleasant side effects of gastric bypass surgery.
Weigh both the positive and the negative, and get a realistic picture of what you can expect. Making an educated decision and going into it well prepared (if surgery is what you ultimately decide) will give you that much more chance for success.