Weight loss surgery is evidence-based and the most effective treatment for severe obesity, helping patients achieve long-term weight loss and better health outcomes.
Obesity is commonly defined in adults by reference to body mass index (BMI), which compares a person’s height and weight. Overweight is indicated by a BMI between 25-30 and obesity by a BMI over 30. You can calculate your BMI here.
Almost one-third of Australia’s population is now obese and obesity is on the rise. This presents a major healthcare issue given obesity is associated with increased risk of developing more than 40 other diseases and health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Increasingly, weight loss surgery, known as bariatric surgery, is used as an effective treatment for obesity (typically in patients with a BMI over 35).
Evidence for Surgical Treatment
Common weight loss surgical procedures include the sleeve gastrectomy and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, which are typically performed laparoscopically (i.e. by keyhole surgery) by our specialist bariatric surgeons.
Both procedures significantly decrease the functional volume of the stomach, which restricts the amount of food that can be consumed. Studies show patients experience average weight losses of around 20-30% and 25-35% after undergoing a sleeve gastrectomy or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, respectively.
In comparison to medical therapy (i.e. non-surgical treatment using medications), numerous studies have found weight loss surgery to be superior in reducing BMI, with the landmark Swedish Obese Subjects study recording that patients sustained weight loss of 18% on average 20 years after surgery.
Other Outcomes of Weight Loss Surgery
The advantages of weight loss surgery are not limited to long-term weight loss and weight management. It has been found to yield numerous other health benefits for patients, both physical and mental.
A recent American study analysing 1,330 patients found that one year after weight loss surgery their chances of getting coronary heart disease within the next 10 years dropped by 40%. In another recent analysis of 19 studies, patients were found to be 62% less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke after undergoing weight loss surgery.
“The risk of coronary heart disease in people with severe obesity is profound and the effect of bariatric surgery on that risk is equally profound. This study provides further proof that treating obesity means treating heart disease and a whole host of other diseases.”
Eric J. DeMaria, MD, Past President of ASMBS and Professor, East Carolina University, USA
Reduced Cancer Risk
Obesity is linked to 13 different types of cancer, including bowel cancer and breast cancer.
A new American study has found that patients with severe obesity who undergo weight loss surgery and lose at least 20% of their body weight halve their risk of developing cancer. Studies have also found that cancer mortality is halved as a result of weight loss from bariatric surgery.
According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) – the largest national society for this specialty – weight loss surgery improves diabetes in nearly 90% of patients and causes it to go into remission in 78% of patients.
“[Weight loss] surgery is the only therapy that beneficially affects all diabetes-related complications, at the same time resulting in fewer deaths and cardiovascular events.”
Adrian T. Billeter, MD, PhD, lead study author from the University of Heidelberg, Germany
Health-Related Quality of Life
Obesity is estimated to have a bigger impact on quality of life than 20 years of ageing. Studies consistently find substantial improvements in the health-related quality of life of patients following weight loss from bariatric surgery, in both their physical and emotional wellbeing.
Factors Affecting the Outcome of Weight Loss Surgery
The amount of weight that a patient will lose after undergoing weight loss surgery is dependent upon several factors, including their age, weight before surgery, overall health and the type of procedure performed. Other significant factors are their commitment to maintaining dietary guidelines and their follow-up care and support.
That’s why at Sea Change Weight Loss Clinic we take a holistic approach to weight loss and ongoing weight management with the help of our onsite team, which includes a dietitian, psychologist and clinical nurse specialist. We believe a holistic approach is the key to long-term weight loss success.
If you would like to learn more about our approach, we run regular education evenings at our Merewether clinic, which you can register to attend here.