What Can Go Really Wrong? 6 Things You Should Know About Weight Loss Surgery

A balanced diet and exercise are crucial for maintaining a healthy body, but for some, these things only go so far. The alternative: weight loss surgery. Before going under the knife, it's important to understand these six important points:

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1. Weight Loss Surgery: Types

1. You have options.

Before deciding to have surgery, it’s important to research and discuss with your doctor the different types of weight loss procedures that are available to you.

The Mayo Clinic explains that weight loss surgery does one of two things: It restricts the amount of food the stomach can hold, or it shortens part of the small intestine. The four main types of surgery include gastric bypass, which creates a small pouch at the top of the stomach; laparoscopic, which uses an adjustable band to narrow the opening to the stomach; sleeve gastrectomy, which forms part of the stomach into a tube-like structure; and last, biliopancreatic diversion, which closes off part of the small intestine.

Some things to consider: Which surgery will get you to your goal weigh? Which surgery is the most safe for your body? Which surgery is most affordable for your financial situation? The surgery you choose is a life choice – one that requires plenty of time and thought.

2. Weight Loss Surgery: Side Effects

2. You will experience side effects.

As with any surgery, side effects are inevitable. Side effects from weight loss surgery can get ugly, but most are expected and able to be prepared for. Most common are issues such as weakness, sweating and feeling faint. Many patients typically also experience something called “dumping” – when food goes directly from the stomach pouch to the small intestine without being digested. Therefore, frequent trips to the bathroom can be expected.

More serious surgery side effects include gallstones, blood clots and excessive bleeding from wounds.

3. Weight Loss Surgery: Weight Loss

3. Actual weight loss can vary.

Those who undergo weight loss surgery are most concerned with actually getting results. Typically, folks who go under the knife will see a drop in the scale for 18-24 months. After that point, weight loss usually subsides, after the body adjusts to its new changes. Some even experience weight gain.

4. Weight Loss Surgery: Post-Surgery

4. It’s not just a quick fix.

Many are not happy to hear that weight loss surgery isn’t the be all, end all answer. As with anything, work has to be put in. Big lifestyle changes must be implemented in order to experience significant and permanent weight loss. These include eating small, frequent meals with a lot of nutrition, and maintaining a consistent workout plan.

5. Weight Loss Surgery: Recovery

5. You’ll need time to recover.

Don’t expect to jump right back into work after undergoing surgery. Typically, people are asked to stay in the hospital for 2-3 days after the procedure to properly recover and work up to moving around safely. Then, it'll usually take up to 2-3 weeks before the patient can resume normal activities.

6. Weight Loss Surgery: Cost

6. It may break the bank.

It’s no surprise that big surgeries such as this will cost you. The price will depend on the type of surgery, the hospital and doctor you choose, and your overall financial situation. Some insurance companies will cover the procedure, depending on how extreme your weight issues are.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases notes that the average cost can run from $20,000 to $25,000.