Surgical risk encompasses a number of different criteria, however, in the end, it is important for the risks of surgery to be outweighed by the risks of living with obesity. If that were reversed, bariatric surgery, in most cases, would not be worth it.
For most patients suffering from obesity, surgery is a viable option, considering the likelihood of developing life-threatening diseases if obesity is left unchecked. However, a number of factors determine if bariatric surgery is the proper course of action. Previous surgeries in the abdominal area including previous bariatric surgeries, age, degree of obesity and general health will play a part in determining not only if this is the proper course of action, but also which procedure should be employed.
For those who are extremely obese a gastric banding procedure or gastric bypass may not be suitable. Rather, the surgeon may opt for the gastric sleeve as a standalone, or as part of a multi-stage procedure. The gastric sleeve is a much simpler bariatric procedure, which yields excellent results. In these cases, the accumulation of fat in certain parts of the abdomen may occlude the surgical area, making it hard to place the band properly or reroute the intestine with minimal complexity.
Older (over 65) and younger (under 18) patients also present an increased surgical risk, as older patients may not be able to heal as quickly and younger patients’ development may be stunted by surgery and its effects. Generally speaking, adults between the ages of 18 and 65 have the lowest surgical risk and are therefore considered prime candidates for bariatric surgery. To learn more about age and bariatric surgery, click here.
Previous procedures including previous bariatric procedures will make bariatric surgery riskier, and sometimes impossible, to perform. For example, scar tissue from a previous procedure may not allow the surgeon to perform the operation as expected. This may cause undue or unacceptable risk. Revising previous bariatric procedures, while possible and often performed, also carry a degree of additional risk.
Finally, a patient’s general health and lifestyle will contribute greatly to their ability to recover from a surgical procedure. Any significant chronic diseases and poor general health will increase the risk of surgery. While it is expected that most obese patients will have some sort of medical problem, it is important to evaluate these risks before surgery. A patient will undergo a series of preliminary tests including cardiovascular, pulmonary and renal exams that will allow the surgeon to understand whether or not they are good candidates for surgery.