Gastric Bypass Surgery and Weight Loss
Being obese is not easy. There are many negative physical and psychological consequences that come with it. For the most part, no one chooses to be obese and no one enjoys it.
However, losing weight can be very challenging. Diet and exercise can be notoriously difficult to stick to. Many people never manage to achieve "normal weight" despite a lifetime of efforts.
A new study shows that gastric bypass surgery, while invasive, can be extremely effective for teens and adults.
In a study following 161 teens and 301 adults, teens were on average 79 pounds lighter 5 years after their surgery. Adults were 88 pounds lighter.
What is Gastric Bypass Surgery?
Gastric Bypass Surgery and Diabetes
One key benefit of losing weight the potential "remission" of diabetes. Diabetes is a very common but potentially deadly disease that can cause patients to lose their sight and potentially lose toes as well. Patients in the later stages of diabetes have to inject themselves with insulin to keep their diabetes under control.
This study showed that for teens in particular, gastric bypass can reverse diabetes for the majority of patients. 80% of teen patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery were diabetes free 4 years later.
The Connection between Weight and Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes "Remission" vs Cure
Diabetes + Weight Loss
Gastric Bypass should generally be used only after diet and exercise have failed to control weight. As with any surgery, it is an invasive procedure that carries risks.
Diet alone can be very effective in treating diabetes if done correctly. Nearly half of patients in this one-year study managed to cure their diabetes. Meal replacement shakes and weight loss was all that they needed.
Gastric Bypass and High Blood Pressure
Similar to diabetes, high blood pressure is another potentially deadly medical condition driven by the same factors as weight gain. In this study, teens actually benefitted more from gastric bypass surgery than adults when it came to blood pressure. Over 60% of teens were "cured" of their high blood pressure 4 years after their surgery, compared to around 40% of adults.
Roux-en-Y: How It's Done
This study used a Roux-en-Y procedure on all patients. This type of surgery bypasses most of the stomach and part of the small intestine by attaching part of the small intestine directly to a small section of the stomach.
After this surgery, food bypasses most of the stomach and part of the small intestine. This reduces the amount of food the stomach can hold as well as fat absorption in the bypassed segment of the small intestine.
This study adds to a growing body of evidence that shows the effectiveness of gastric bypass surgery.
Diet and exercise are of course the best treatment for obesity. However, we need to acknowledge that these do not work for everyone. Gastric bypass surgery can be a good option for those who have failed to lose weight with diet and exercise.
Gastric Bypass surgery has traditionally only been offered for older adults. This is one of the first studies to show significant benefits for gastric surgery in teenagers.