Weight Loss Surgery Pros, and Cons: A Comprehensive Guide

Weight Loss Surgery Pros

Weight loss surgery allows many people to experience improved health and quality of life; however, it does have some potential downsides. Today, we will explore the pros and cons of weight loss surgery to help patients make more informed decisions.

After bariatric surgery, in addition to the life-altering modifications to your diet, many other changes can occur that come as a surprise to many patients. You may experience changes in your emotions, relationships, social life, and basically, your entire lifestyle.

Bariatric surgery patients often view surgery as a simple solution for weight loss, overlooking its challenges. However, it is important to recognize that this procedure is far from easy and requires significant effort. Understanding the pros and cons of weight loss surgery will help individuals be better prepared so they can achieve success.

Comprehending the Weight Loss Surgery Pros and Cons

The success of weight loss surgery highly depends on the patient’s determination to make lifelong changes in their lifestyle, including diet, exercise, and mindset. Moreover, studies have proven that individuals who undergo weight loss surgery and are fully committed to the life-long aftercare process experience numerous benefits and an improved quality of life.

Most patients would report that bariatric surgery is worth the trade-off, despite the sacrifices involved and the sometimes associated side effects. Partnering with the experts at the IBI Healthcare Institute, a knowledgeable and experienced bariatric surgeon, is a key element in minimizing risks associated with weight loss surgery.

Weight Loss Surgery Pros – Embracing Benefits

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States and the statistics are staggering. According to the CDC, about 40% of the adult population age 20+ in the U.S. are higher weight. Obesity is associated with several diseases and conditions that can affect the quality of life and also result in premature death.

Currently, we are privileged to have a wide range of bariatric weight loss options at our disposal to combat the prevailing epidemic. Bariatric surgery, in particular, can be a literal lifesaver for patients with obesity-related health conditions. Additionally, there are several advantages to opting for bariatric surgery, such as:

1. Extending Lifespan

Higher-weight patients who had weight loss surgery live longer than higher-weight patients with similar key indicators such as age, sex, BMI, and obesity-related health issues. A study published in 2018 by The Journal Of The American Medical Association reported a correlation between individuals who had weight loss surgery and a longer life span.

2. Reducing Risks for Coronary Disease, Diabetes, Hypertension, and Other Obesity-Related Conditions

The results of a study presented at a meeting of The American Society for Metabolic Surgery reported a 40% decline in the risk for coronary artery disease among the group of patients who had weight loss surgery. One year after their bariatric surgery 40% of patients experienced complete remission of type 2 diabetes and 44% no longer had pulmonary arterial hypertension (elevated blood pressure in the arteries that go from the heart to the lungs).

Type 2 Diabetes

There have been numerous studies related to the association between obesity and type 2 diabetes. According to a study published by the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism:

Over 50% of adults who were suffering from type 2 diabetes experienced remission after having gastric bypass surgery.

One noteworthy observation was that surgery performed on younger patients who had not had type 2 diabetes for a long time entered complete remission. This makes a case for undergoing bariatric weight loss surgery before health-related issues such as type 2 diabetes become advanced.

Video: Type 2 Diabetes and Bariatric Surgery


High Blood Pressure 

It is also associated with obesity and has been included in studies regarding its response to bariatric surgery. In one study, more than 30% of patients were able to adjust their medications due to improvements in their high blood pressure after losing weight. Some patients also experienced remission of the condition.

Sleep Apnea

multiple studies have demonstrated a connection between obesity and sleep apnea. For instance, a Swedish study found that 66% of patients who had gastric bypass surgery showed improvement in sleep apnea after two years.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

Having excess fat can cause insulin resistance which makes the pancreas work overtime to produce enough insulin just to maintain the body’s normal levels of blood glucose. If left untreated, it will lead to diabetes. A study published in 2019 states that 50% to 75% of higher-weight people suffer from NAFLD and they are also two and a half times more likely to contract heart disease.


It is the medical term that describes an arthritis type of wear-and-tear on the joints. Patients participating in a study involving bariatric surgery and related health conditions observed that symptoms related to osteoarthritis improved with as little as a 10% reduction in weight.


Obesity interferes with the female reproductive cycle and undergoing weight loss surgery often alleviates this condition. Women report having normal menstrual cycles anywhere between 3 months and 12 months after surgery.

3. Providing Long-Term Weight Loss

Weight loss surgery helps boost success rates higher than dieting and exercise alone. In fact, according to the ASMBS, approximately 90% of patients who undergo weight loss surgery can maintain at least half of their initial weight loss long-term.

4. Fighting Depression and Boosting Self Esteem

After losing weight, approximately 97% of patients report feeling more self-confident and more optimistic. A positive body image is associated with lower depression symptoms in weight loss patients.

Often following bariatric surgery, patients undergo cosmetic surgery to repair loose skin and other damage resulting from rapid weight loss. The healthy diet, exercise, and lifestyle required after bariatric surgery are also conducive to a more positive outlook.

Weight Loss Surgery Cons – Navigating Drawbacks and Risks

There have been many advancements in bariatric surgery over the past few decades. With the introduction of laparoscopic and endoscopic procedures, the risks have been reduced by significant margins. However, all surgeries (including weight loss surgery) still carry some risk.

Many of the risks associated with bariatric surgery are well-known, and there are a few that may be a surprise for you. Read over the possible downsides of weight loss surgery so you can set your expectations about what your new life may look like post-surgery. The general risks associated with any surgical intervention are:

  • Risks associated with the use of general anesthesia.

  • Bleeding.

  • Infection.

  • Blood clots.

1. Risks Associated With Weight Loss Surgery

Many people who research bariatric weight loss surgery easily find the surgical risks and side effects associated with each procedure. However, there is little information that outlines how the surgery may affect life in the long term.

Here are some factors that patients may consider negative before undergoing bariatric surgery.

2. Physical and Mental Fatigue

Bariatric surgery is not magic but it acts as a tool alongside diet and exercise. It is going to require hard work and daily commitment to living a new lifestyle full of healthy choices, it can be quite exhausting for some patients.

3. Changes in Social Life

Since your dietary habits have to undergo serious changes, you may need to re-think and avoid certain social situations that revolve around eating. This may frustrate friends who normally participate in these situations with you and you may find it hard to continue spending time with them.

Moreover, people who have not had bariatric surgery rarely understand what weight loss patients are dealing with, and they find it hard to support their friends’ new lifestyle. For the weight loss patient, this is a tough situation because sometimes it comes down to a choice between their new healthy lifestyle, staying on track, and spending time with friends.

For many, bariatric support groups, both online and in-person, can offer help, advice, and a new social circle of like-minded individuals.

4. Non-Improvement of Psychological Issues

Many higher-weight patients often resort to stress-eating or using food as a source of emotional comfort. However, you cannot effectively resolve these underlying issues with weight loss surgery alone, potentially resulting in disappointment if you set unrealistic expectations. Therefore, we highly recommend that patients seek ongoing professional assistance throughout their weight loss journey to address these emotional concerns and achieve total wellness.

5. Excess Skin and Body Image

Many weight loss patients have expectations of looking a certain way after they lose weight but in reality, they may feel like they look worse. Additionally, the aftermath of quick weight loss: loose skin, stretch marks, sagging breasts, etc. may cause as much emotional distress as the extra weight did.

Today, numerous cosmetic procedures can effectively alleviate and repair various issues. However, multiple procedures may be required, resulting in high costs. Moreover, many cosmetic surgery centers provide financing options to assist patients in initiating the process.

5. Altered Alcohol Metabolism

Firstly, some patients who have weight loss surgery might develop a problem with drinking too much alcohol in the long run. Additionally, this problem changes the way their body handles alcohol. As a result, doctors usually suggest that these patients do not drink alcohol, depending on their medical history.

6. Hair Loss

Some patients may experience hair loss three to six months after surgery. Surprisingly, this can come as quite a shock if the patient is not expecting it. Hair loss is a possible outcome after any surgery because it interrupts the normal growth cycle of follicles. However, it is generally temporary and not a cause for concern.

Weight Loss Surgery Pros and Cons by Type

Gastric Sleeve – Weight Loss Surgery Pros and Cons

During gastric sleeve, about 75% of the stomach is surgically removed reducing the amount of food the patient can eat at one time.

Pros Cons
  • Good gateway surgery for morbid obesity or people who might experience complications from a more involved bariatric surgery. Losing some initial weight could pave the way for a different procedure such as gastric bypass in the future which would help the patient lose even more weight.
  • Patients can lose weight relatively fast with a large majority of weight coming off in the first 3 to 6 months.
  • There is no re-configuration of the digestive system so there is a lower risk of deficiencies.
  • Results can last a lifetime if the patient commits to the lifestyle changes necessary.
  • This surgery is irreversible.
  • Weight regain is possible if necessary lifestyle changes are not adhered to.
  • Nutritional supplements are required for life.
  • Risks associated with surgery in general.

Gastric Bypass – Weight Loss Surgery Pros and Cons

During gastric bypass, the surgeon removes about 80% of the stomach and also reroutes the digestive system to bypass a large section of the digestive tract which not only limits how much the patient can eat in one sitting but also how many calories are absorbed.

Pros Cons
  • Fast, dramatic weight loss results. Patients can lose up to 50% of total excess weight in 3-6 months and 75% in the first year.
  • Quick recovery or remission in weight-related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and high blood pressure.
  • Results can last a lifetime with continued dietary and lifestyle changes.
  • Lifetime supplements are required to prevent deficiencies which is a known side effect of this procedure.
  • Risk of infection, blood clots, and gallstones.
  • General risks associated with surgery.

Adjustable Gastric Lap Band – Weight Loss Surgery Pros and Cons

A gastric lap band is a temporary surgical device that is placed around the stomach and expanded to shrink the size of the upper stomach. Food intake is limited due to the smaller stomach size.

Pros Cons
  • A gastric band is temporary and can be removed at any time.
  • The size of the band can be adjusted to fit as needed.
  • Fewer nutritional deficiency risks.
  • Helps patients lose 30-42% of excess weight in a year.
  • Short recovery time.
  • Slower weight loss.
  • The band may slip or leak causing pain requiring additional surgery.
  • Requires regular fills.
  • The Port may become infected, migrate, or malfunction.
  • Requires periodic adjusting by a doctor.

Duodenal Switch-Weight Loss Surgery Pros and Cons

During duodenal switch surgery, 80% of the stomach is removed and the digestive system is rerouted to decrease calorie absorption, making it effective for morbidly higher-weight patients with type 2 diabetes. This surgery combines both restrictive and malabsorptive techniques.

Pros Cons
  • Offers the fastest and most significant weight loss results of all other bariatric surgery options.
  • Many patients experience remission from many weight-related health problems, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Offers excellent long-term success.
  • Patients must commit to taking daily supplements for life to replace vitamins and prevent malnutrition.
  • Dumping syndrome is possible if the recommended diet is not adhered to (diarrhea, nausea, rapid heartbeat, fainting, etc.).
  • Risk of gallstones.
  • Risks are generally associated with surgery.

Nevertheless, your surgeon will assess your health and discuss if the benefits of bariatric surgery outweigh the risks. They will also consult with you to ensure you understand the level of commitment you are making to lose weight.

Weight Loss Surgery is not a once-and-done kind of procedure, it requires a lifetime of ongoing maintenance. However, to achieve long-term success after bariatric surgery, it is important to incorporate a few key measures. Lastly, it includes taking supplements, small meals with the right food in a specific order, maintaining a regular exercise routine, and seeking ongoing support.

Equally important, losing a lot of weight and getting healthy takes a lot of dedication and willpower. But the good results, like having more energy, feeling better about yourself, and getting a big boost in overall happiness, make it worth it for most people.

Contact Us for More Information About Weight Loss Surgery Pros and Cons

Moreover, for expert advice on the pros and cons of weight loss surgery, reach out to IBI Healthcare Institute. Nonetheless, we are dedicated to guiding you throughout your weight loss journey. Additionally, Contact us now to inquire more about surgical and non-surgical weight loss.

Picture of Dr. A. Christopher Ibikunle MD FACS
Dr. A. Christopher Ibikunle MD FACS
Dr A. Christopher Ibikunle (MD, FACS) is a distinguished surgeon with a rich academic and clinical background. After completing his residency at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, he served as an Active Staff and Assistant Professor of Surgery. Currently, he is a Professor of Surgery at Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership and a Lead Preceptor for several institutions, including Morehouse University and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Chris is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, committed to advancing surgery and patient care.
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