Surgery or Not? Making the Decision

If you have made the decision to undergo bariatric surgery, congratulations! You’ve taken a huge first step toward a new and healthier life. The decision to undergo a weight loss procedure is not an easy one, and in the end, only you, your primary physician and your bariatric surgeon can determine whether surgical weight loss is the right course of action.

For those the still on the fence and deciding whether or not to undergo surgery, the first and most important issue to consider is overall health. Obesity is a dangerous disease that causes other diseases, known as co-morbidities. If left untreated, obesity related diseases including type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea, can lead to major health problems and even premature death. The first step to understanding whether bariatric surgery is right for you is to find out, with the help of your medical team, if the risks of living with obesity are greater than the risks of surgery to correct obesity. While there are plenty of other reasons to choose bariatric surgery including medical cost savings over time, renewed self-confidence, and improvement in appearance, the primary goal of any procedure is to improve health and quality of life.

Not every patient is suited to bariatric surgery and surgery should not be taken lightly. Further, weight loss surgery requires a great deal of commitment post-operatively, meaning that patients should be prepared for significant changes in their dietary and exercise lifestyle. Speak to your medical professionals to learn more and get started.

What Pre-op Tests Will I Have to Undergo?

Physical and psychological testing before weight loss surgery is a key component in determining whether or not bariatric surgery is right for you. Testing is performed after the initial consultation and before the surgical procedure to offer your surgeon a clear picture of the current state of health as well as potential surgical risk. This, combined with a patient’s medical history, diet plan and exercise patterns over the past several years, will offer a complete view of a patient’s suitability for surgery.

First, your surgeon will want to ensure that your body can handle both the demands of surgery/anesthesia itself and the rapid changes you will experience afterward. For example, the chances of complications rise as the patient is more obese. This is partly due to excess fat obscuring the surgical field of view and mostly due to the added strain placed on the organs, including the heart, as a result of the additional weight. To determine if a patient can cope with the strains of surgery, a number or cardiovascular, pulmonary, and renal tests will be performed.

Psychological tests will also be performed, not because your surgeon believes you may be mentally ill, rather because it is important that you fully understand the lifestyle changes necessary after surgery. Your surgeon will discuss and evaluate your willingness and ability to change your life after surgery. The most successful patients are those who understand that this surgery is simply a tool to aid in weight loss, and the ultimate success relies on them.

Testing before surgery is crucial to ensuring the very best outcomes. Despite the excellent safety record of weight loss surgery procedures, each and every case must be taken very seriously.

The Bottom Line

Getting back to whether bariatric surgery is right for you, the most important consideration is that you must be ready. And it must be your decision. While your surgeon help you decide what procedure is best and will recommend speaking to family members and friends about your decision, ultimately it is up to you to not only decide that is right but decide that you are ready to commit yourself.

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