Long-term effects of weight loss surgery

Weight Management

by David A. Provost, MD

Jun 6, 2017

Weight loss surgery is complex because the operation itself is only one part of the solution. I tell my patients all the time, “I don’t care if you’re big or small, if you don’t exercise or get regular physical activity and make proper food choices, weight gain is inevitable.”

Obesity is a chronic disease and those who suffer from it can be compared to those with high blood pressure or diabetes. Through proper weight loss surgery, our goal is not to cure obesity but to control it throughout a patient’s lifetime.

Weight loss surgery is one of the only predictably successful treatment for morbid to severe obesity. The likelihood of someone losing weight with diet and medications and sustaining that weight loss for two years is less than 1 percent.

Before you explore weight loss options, you have to have the desire to change and do what it takes to see the results. Do not be mislead that weight loss surgery will reverse your obesity, rather, it also takes a lifetime of regular exercise and healthy food choices to sustain your health. Weight loss surgery is not a quick-fix solution and requires a lifelong commitment. 

Long-Term Effects of Weight Loss Surgery

The long-term outcomes of weight loss surgery are overwhelmingly positive. Some common benefits I see include:

  • Increased mobility
  • Improvement in associated health conditions
  • Increased life span
  • Reduced medical costs
  • Reduction in absenteeism at work or other activities
  • Lower risk of heart attack, stroke
  • Lower risk of many types of cancer, including breast cancer
  • Improved quality of life and mental health

The long-term goal of weight loss surgery is to improve your overall health, not to become a model. In fact, even with a 5 to 10 percent decrease in body weight, you can see an improvement in diabetes and high cholesterol. Aiding mechanical problems such as sleep apnea, joint pain or back pain requires much greater weight loss.

The average outcome of weight loss surgery is roughly 30 percent of total body loss.

Lifelong Monitoring

A weight loss operation provides a very powerful tool that allows you to control hunger over the long term. You are responsible for making the right exercise and food choices after surgery, and the surgery isn’t going to go grocery shopping for you.

Obesity is a lifelong illness and requires consistent monitoring. That is why we follow up with patients every few months and yearly for the rest of our patients’ lives. Those who continue to check in with their provider tend to do better in the long run than those who lose weight initially and relapse later.

In my years of experience in bariatric surgery, we have developed beneficial support groups, advanced technology and continuing education courses, which result in better outcomes for the hundreds of cases we do annually.

When a patient tells me he was able to go to the movie theater for the first time in 40 years, it is extremely rewarding to hear about these landmark events. I enjoy helping patients achieve goals and improve quality of life through weight loss surgery.

To see if you could be a candidate for weight loss surgery, find a physician on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Health.  

About the Author

Dr. Provost is chief of the division of bariatric surgery at Scott & White Medical Center – Temple. Practicing bariatric surgery for more than 20 years and a member of the ASMBS since 2001, Dr. Provost is active in surgeon education and training in laparoscopic gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy, and revisions and complications. He has served the ASMBS as a member of the Research, Public Education, Insurance, Training, Quality & Standards, Emerging Technology, and Program committees, as well as two terms on the ASMBS Executive Council. Dr. Provost also served as Secretary of the Texas Association of Bariatric Surgery, the Texas Chapter of the ASMBS. He served as President of the ASMBS Foundation, having served on the Foundation board from 2007 - 2014. Dr. Provost also serves as an associate editor for SOARD.

As former chair of the Bariatric Surgery Review Committee and now as a member of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and co-chair of the Verifications committee, Dr. Provost worked on the transition from the ASMBS Center of Excellence Program to the new MBSAQIP with the American College of Surgeons, and had an active role in developing the new standards and their implementation.

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