Health And Metabolic Surgery: Everything You Need To Know

Aug 23, 2017 — by Daniel Huacuz, MD
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Obesity is a killer. The statistics show that it’s second only to smoking as the leading contributor to premature deaths globally. Worldwide figures are staggering - 600 million adults today are obese, more than 31% of North Americans and 20% of Europeans according to latest WHO figures.

But while cigarettes are banned and vilified across the developed and developing world, what is being done about the obesity epidemic? When you have a clear link between obesity and diseases like type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, coronary ischemic disease, hypertension and even cancer, is it really enough to recommend diet and exercise and leave our solutions at that?

What Metabolic Surgery can Do.

Inspired by a series of groundbreaking research studies in 2009, the American Society for Bariatric Surgery changed its name to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery to reflect the changing focus. Throughout the years, it has becoming increasingly clear that the various surgeries classified at one time as superficial, provide a real and lasting medical benefit.

Type 2 Diabetes

The link between weight loss surgery and the reversal of metabolic diseases was first realized in 1995 by Dr. Walter Pories. In an article published by his research team named ““Who would have thought it? An operation proves to be the most effective therapy for adult-onset diabetes mellitus” Dr. Pories was able to prove how metabolic surgery was able to provoke a full recovery from type 2 diabetes within only a few days of undergoing the procedure. Not only that, but it kept symptoms in remission for years after the fact, a real magic bullet.

Hypertension

The revelations didn’t stop there, a study published in 2003 as “Annals of Surgery” showed a 69% resolution of blood pressure related issues with results lasting for several years afterwards as well.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disease that can affect several cardiovascular systems and the body’s metabolism as a whole. It induces biological changes that can put you at a greater risk for heart disease and severely lowers your quality of life in the process. For many years sleep apnea has been considered to be a multi-factor disease with many contributing factors and no easy treatment, but a recent review of metabolic surgery patients has shown that 75% of those who struggle with sleep apnea prior to surgery show improvement afterwards.

Cancer

Metabolic surgery has shown a clear 50% reduction in the incidence of cancer in women this appears to be true across the form, applying to all types of cancer. While the reason for the decrease is unclear the results are not.

What the Future Holds

As metabolic surgery becomes a medical treatment and not just a cosmetic fix, it’s expected that physicians specializing in metabolic disorders will begin working more closely with bariatric surgeons. Together they’ll be able to assess the needs of at-risk patients and decide on the best course of surgery that will best serve the needs of the patient.

It may also start being used as a tool for the less obese, rather than a measure of last resort with more and more research coming through that shows how surgeries such as Roux-en-Y can activate anti-diabetic cells in the body even independently from weight loss.

With research into other common procedures such as Sleeve Gastrectomy also increasing, it’s clear that the field of metabolic surgery is set to lead the world in its fight against obesity.

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