This is a question that nearly every person who is contemplating bariatric surgery asks him- or herself along the way. Many wonder if they are risking their lives in the name of vanity.
An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (January 8, 2003) reported that marked obesity in a man aged twenty to thirty could reduce his life expectancy by up to thirteen years. An extremely obese woman in this same age range might expect to lose up to eight years compared to her normal-weight friends. These are not small numbers. People who are overweight are more likely to develop obesity-related illnesses such as heart disease, pulmonary hypertension, stroke, diabetes, sleep apnea, and arthritis. And obese people are much more likely than lean people to develop blood clots in the legs and lungs, gallstones, pancreatitis, abdominal hernia, fatty liver, polycystic ovary syndrome, high blood pressure, arthritis, gout, lower back pain, infertility, urinary incontinence, and cataracts.
So it is not in the name of vanity that you are considering surgery. Your decision to go in for this operation may liter ally save your life. Nonetheless, many of these problems may be still very abstract for you. You may feel perfectly well and quite unafflicted by any problems related to your obesity. This is especially likely to be true if you are young. In my experience a person's body is remarkably resilient until around the age of thirty or forty. After forty, the walls start tumbling down. Although there are a few people like my husband's uncle Joe, who lived to be ninety-two even though he was one hundred pounds above his ideal weight for most of his adult life, he was clearly the exception, not the rule.
In the end, bariatric surgery is a bit of a leap of faith. You need to believe that weighing less is likely to make you a healthier, happier person. I can only speak for my patients when I say that each and every one of them has found the benefits of gastric bypass to far exceed any drawbacks. All of my patients who have undergone the procedure have told me they would do it again if necessary. Although most have had a relatively event-free recovery, they all admit that there were many bumps along the road.
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