Bariatric surgery is a weight-loss option for folks who have tried exercise and dieting without getting sustainable results. Health and wellness experts concur that this surgery is effective for weight-loss, but like any other surgery, it doesn’t come with a clean slate – there are side effects. 

Bariatric surgeries are all major procedures that have potential long-term benefits. Furthermore, for patients with severe weight-related health complications, bariatric surgery comes as a rapid weight-loss option. Therefore, if you are looking to get started with bariatric surgical procedures, let’s explore its benefits, side effects, and overall, of what to expect after bariatric surgery.

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery (also referred to as weight-loss surgery) is a combination of surgical procedures that include gastric bypass aimed at altering the digestive system to help obese and overweight people to lose weight. 

It is a long-term weight loss solution achieved by altering the gut hormone levels which stipulate hunger and satiety. Through these surgical procedures, a hormonal weight set point is developed to help the body restrict its gut function, which leads to malabsorption.


What happens after bariatric surgery?

Long-term studies indicate that bariatric surgical procedures lead to:

  • Long-term weight-loss.
  • Reversal of type 2 diabetes.
  • Reduced cardiovascular risk factors.
  • A 40% to 23% reduction in mortality. 

The above-mentioned benefits can be realized in the short-term post-surgery, while others can take years. Regardless, the U.S National Institute of Health still recommends bariatric surgeries for obese and overweight folks (people with a body mass index of at least 40, or those with a BMI of 35 but have pre-coexisting severe medical conditions such as diabetes).

Like any other surgery, bariatric surgery is not 100% foolproof. But if the post-surgery life changes and diet management isn’t done right, then chances are one may not sustain weight-loss results. This procedure can lead to a weight loss range of between 60 to 75% of one’s original weight. But if mismanaged, it is not uncommon to see weight gain creep back months or years after the surgery. As the chief medical expert at Tijuana Bariatric Center asserted, many people still struggle with weight gain after bariatric surgery. The causes could range from dieting malpractice or mismanagement of exercise routine. Whichever the case might be, it is recommended that a patient undergo revisional surgery.


But what should you expect after bariatric surgery?


Data from the National Institute of Health shows that among others, bariatric surgery constituted a 30% reduction in mortality, a 36% 10-year remission rate of diabetes type 2, and a reduced cardiovascular health risk. That said, let’s detail some of the benefits you can accrue after bariatric surgery.

  • Reduced mortality and morbidity

Short-term weight-loss benefits associated with bariatric surgeries include reduced obesity-related comorbidities such as diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome. It provides a platform for the long-term treatment of these comorbidities.

  • Fertility and pregnancy

Bariatric surgery has a positive effect on the responsiveness of the treatments of infertility in men and women. It reduces the risk of gestational diabetes and hypertensive conditions during pregnancy. Data from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery indicated that there is evidence of reduced preterm birth in overweight women who undergo bariatric surgeries.

  • Long-term and sustainable weight-loss

After undergoing bariatric surgery, a patient is expected to adjust their diets and lifestyle to lose and maintain that weight. The surgical procedure entails rerouting the gastrointestinal tract to help patients monitor the quantity of intake. Eating less but healthier foods will lead to a 60% weight loss within a year. And maintaining the new lifestyle changes is key to weight loss.

Side effects

  • Gallstones

This is a common problem that affects people undergoing gastric bypass surgery. Although harmless, it is associated with abdominal pain and other complications. On average, more than 30% of bariatric surgery patients experience gallstones, and a further 20% of those may need another surgery to get rid of gallbladders.

  • Constipation

Constipation will have to do with patients experiencing fewer bowel movements. It is a common side effect of gastric bypass, but harmless as there are numerous ways you can handle constipation, one of which is taking enough fluids to hydrate the gut.

  • Surgical wound infections

Most surgical procedures are conventionally associated with this problem. The surgical wounds might take time to heal but, in the meantime, bacterial infections can creep up. It is mostly characterized by pain and pus from the affected region.

  • Food intolerance

This is a long-term side effect that may show years after the operation. It is quite rare though as it occurs in 1 of 35 patients. The implication could be that you avoid certain foods such as red meat as taking it could lead to heartburns, vomiting, or nausea.

Overall, the health benefits as a result of gastric bypass often eclipse the bariatric surgery side effects. Therefore, if you are considering this procedure, get an informed decision by soliciting advice from experts or your doctor.


Lifestyle changes you should make after undergoing bariatric surgery

As already stated, patients can expect to lose weight up to 60% of the original in the first 6 months post-surgery. But how rapid that weight loss derives a bearing from some of the lifestyle changes you will have to adopt, namely:

Do not overeat

The surgery is aimed at reducing the volume of food your stomach can accommodate. Therefore, you will be required to take a smaller amount of food but at frequent intervals, as opposed to larger quantities all at once.

Stick to a balanced diet

Take whole foods that can provide your body with all the essential vitamins and nutrients. On the contrary, steer clear of junk foods as they have too many calories. 

Exercise regularly

Exercise is a healthy way to shed off excess weight. The rapid weight-loss post-surgery would make it easier for your body to move around, which might be helpful along the road.


Key takeaways

  • Bariatric surgery is an effective option for longer-term weight-loss for obese and overweight folks.
  • Physicians and patients should be considerate of the psychological and physical downsides that could occur after bariatric surgery.

Bariatric surgery is a proven tool for weight loss in people with a body mass index of at least 40, and those with a BMI of 35 but who have coexisting medical conditions. And just like any other surgery, it produces excellent results if the post-surgical management is done right by the patient. That said, the few complications that may arise from this operation often resolve in a few weeks.