If non-surgical methods have not helped you lose weight and keep it off, you still have another option:

  • Studies show that weight loss surgery (as compared to other options) offers the best results - sustained long-term weight loss in patients who have failed with other treatments.
  • Among the most crucial success factors, however, are a positive attitude, self-discipline, and the ability to set and work towards goals.
  • Surgery can be the best option as long as you are ready to make this commitment to losing your excess weight and keeping it off.

The surgical treatment of obesity is called bariatric surgery after the Greek words, baros, meaning "weight," and iatrikos, meaning "medical." This reflects the ability of bariatric surgical procedures to provide a solution to an otherwise unsolvable problem and the evolution of safer, less invasive and more conservative forms of procedures.

Weight-loss surgery may be considered if:

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is 40 or higher
  • Your BMI is 35 to 39.9, and you have a serious weight-related health problem such as diabetes or high blood pressure

The surgical treatment of obesity has evolved over a period of more than 50 years. Today, the two most widely performed weight loss surgeries are the gastric bypass and the LAP-BAND procedure (also known as laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding).

Early studies from Europe showed weight loss results that were less significant with the LAP-BAND procedure than the gastric bypass. However, more up-to-date studies have published results which show weight loss after the LAP-BAND is comparably equal to the gastric bypass after a two year period.

If you are interested in the gastric bypass or the LAP-BAND (gastric banding) to get control of your weight and health problems, you should consider the benefits of weight loss surgery versus the potential risks. Usually, the majority of risks occur during the surgery itself and safety should play a large role in what weight loss surgery you decide to have.

When appropriate, weight-loss surgery can result in dramatic improvements in weight and health. Within the first two years, you can expect to lose 50 percent to 60 percent of your excess weight. Those people who follow dietary and exercise recommendations tend to keep most of that weight off long term.

Weight-loss surgery does have side effects, however. Complications such as pneumonia, blood clots and infection can occur with any type of surgery. Rapid weight loss can result in gallstones; a hernia or weakness, which may require surgery to correct, may develop at the site of your incision. Gastric bypass can also cause dumping syndrome, a condition in which stomach contents move too quickly through the small intestine, causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and sweating.

Surgery for weight reduction isn't a miracle procedure. It doesn't guarantee that you'll lose all of your excess weight or that you'll keep it off long term. Weight-loss success after gastric bypass surgery depends on your commitment to making lifelong changes in your eating and exercise habits