In the early nineties, fewer than twenty thousand bariatric surgeries were performed in the U.S. each year. Now the number is around two hundred thousand. Only in the past few years has what was once considered a high-risk and extreme measure been transformed into a relatively standard, safe, and straightforward one. There is strong consensus that bariatric surgery is effective, and Medicaid now covers it in forty-eight states.
Research into conventional weight-loss methods has repeatedly pointed to an overwhelmingly dispiriting conclusion—that diet and exercise alone, no matter how disciplined the individual, fail all too often. Still, only about one per cent of those who medically qualify for bariatric surgery get it.
Over the centuries, suggested strategies for losing weight have included bitter tonics, bleeding, sea air, amphetamines, Turkish baths, tapeworms, purgatives, low-fat diets, high-fat diets, cinnamon, more sleep, less sleep, and the “vigorous massage of the body with pea-flour.” Surgery is an old idea, too. One of the earliest surgical approaches to weight loss, dating back at least a millennium, was simple: the jaw was wired mostly shut. Another story from pre-anesthesia days tells of a rabbi “being given a sleeping potion and taken into a marble chamber, where his abdomen was opened, and many baskets of fat were removed.”
But the health risks associated with obesity have become apparent—higher rates of stroke and heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, infertility, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and an increased risk of certain cancers. In addition, bariatric procedures have improved dramatically.
Robotic surgery and laparoscopy, which became the norm in the past decade, result in fewer complications like hernias. Physicians now have a better sense of how to prevent and treat the complications of surgery.
As recently as seventeen years ago, there was a one-per-cent chance of dying from a bariatric procedure—a relatively high risk. Now it is 0.15 percent, which is less than that for a knee replacement, a procedure commonly recommended to people who have developed joint problems from carrying around excessive weight.
Around seventy-five per cent of bariatric patients have sustained weight loss five years after their surgery, and that percentage is higher if you don’t include lap-band patients in the analysis. Weight loss through diet and exercise rarely leads to more than short-term changes—a quite small percentage of patients see sustained weight loss.
Today, obesity is second only to tobacco as a killer in this country. If you live in the Las Vegas area and are seeking long-term weight loss and health benefits, schedule an appointment at VIPSurg. We will help you find the best treatment for your unique situation.