Millions of Americans turn to diet, fitness, and medication first to treat their obesity. Unfortunately, studies indicate that people will not achieve significant long-term weight loss through diet and behavior modification regimens alone.1 Those who are seriously overweight have an even greater challenge when it comes to sustaining weight loss and improving their health conditions. Surgery may remain the best option for these individuals when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.
The most common weight loss approach is to eat less, eat sensibly, and exercise more. However, studies have shown that patients on diets, exercise programs, or weight loss medication lose approximately 10 percent of their body weight but tend to regain two-thirds of it within one year, and almost all of it within five years.2 The cycle of losing weight and gaining it back is called the "yo-yo effect." While temporary weight loss can help, the yo-yo effect can also make it harder to lose weight in the future.
The National Institutes of Health report that 90 percent of the people who participate in diets and weight-reduction programs do not experience significant and sustained weight loss. For seriously overweight individuals, weight loss surgery should be strongly considered when other therapies have failed, as a way to lose weight, improve their health and increase their quality of life.
Weight Loss Surgery Options
If non-surgical methods have not helped you lose weight long-term, you still have another option. Studies demonstrate that weight loss surgery, as compared to non-surgical treatments, yields the longest period of sustained weight loss in patients who have failed other therapies.1 But keep in mind that a positive attitude, self-discipline, and the ability to plan ahead are key to the success of the surgery. Surgery can help you achieve your long-term goal only if you are ready to make a commitment to losing weight and keeping it off.
There are several categories of weight-loss (bariatric) surgery:
- Restrictive - Reduces the amount of food the stomach can hold but doesn't interfere with normal digestion of food and nutrients.
- Malabsorptive - Shortens the digestive tract to limit the number of calories and nutrients that can be absorbed.
- Combination - Restricts the amount of food the stomach can hold and reduces the number of calories absorbed by altering the digestive tract.
The two most commonly performed weight loss procedures in the United States are the gastric bypass (combination procedure) and the lap band®, also referred to as laparoscopic adjustable gastric band (restrictive procedure).
1. American Society for Bariatric Surgery, Rationale for the surgical treatment of morbid obesity. American Society for Bariatric Surgery Web site. April 8, 1998. Available at: http://www.asbs.org/html/patients/rationale.html. Accessed April 2006.
2. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) / American College of Endocrinology (ACE) Statement on the Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Obesity (1998 Revision). AACE/ACE Obesity Task Force. Endocr Pract. 1998;4:297-330.