Weight Loss Surgery and Your Future Health: What to Expect
Written by Shawn M. Garber, MD Last modified on December 21, 2020
In this edition of Ask the Expert, Dr. Shawn M. Garber answered some frequently asked questions from readers who want to know how weight loss surgery will affect their mental and physical health.
Q. If I have high blood pressure, will I still need to take blood pressure medication after weight loss surgery?
A. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this important question. Bariatric surgery cures or dramatically improves high blood pressure in around 80 percent of patients. It is important to follow-up with your internist. He or she will monitor your blood pressure closely after surgery and adjust your medications accordingly.
Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range, according to the American Heart Association.
Q. Will weight loss surgery lower my cholesterol?
A. Yes! High cholesterol is somewhat hereditary, but in the vast majority of patients, cholesterol levels will be dramatically improved following weight loss surgery. This is important as high cholesterol is considered a major risk factor for heart disease. Simple blood tests can measure your cholesterol and levels of other dangerous blood fats called triglycerides. Your doctor will tell you what your numbers mean and what you need to do about them.
Q. What effect will weight loss surgery have on my diabetes?
A. Type 2 or adult onset diabetes is dramatically improved and/or cured in about 90 percent of patients after bariatric surgery. Gastric bypass, in particular, can cure diabetes very quickly after bariatric surgery.
Q. Can weight loss surgery affect my chances of getting pregnant and having a baby?
A. Actually, morbid obesity is the greater risk as it can lead to infertility. By undergoing bariatric surgery, a patient can increase their fertility and increase their chances of becoming pregnant. It is recommended that patients wait about 18 months after bariatric surgery to become pregnant. Learn more about pregnancy after bariatric surgery here.
Q. What effect will weight loss surgery have on general vitality? Will I have more energy?
A. Most patients say they have more energy than ever after bariatric surgery. This is because they are carrying around less weight. Patients report being able to do a lot of activities they couldn’t perform prior to bariatric surgery. This is good news as engaging in regular physical activity will maximize and maintain any positive changes realized through surgery.
Q. Can weight loss surgery help to cure my depression?
A. About 95 percent of morbid obese patients are depressed. Usually there are many issues contributing to a patient’s depression. In some patients, depression can be improved, but it depends on the reasons why the patient is depressed in the first place.
Ask your doctor for a referral to a mental health care professional. Therapy and/or medication has shown to be helpful in treating many cases of depression. Learn how to cope with emotional changes after bariatric surgery.