Bariatric surgery: it can open up a whole new world for many patients. Not only will you feel lighter and look better; in many cases, bariatric surgery can substantially reduce obesity-related illnesses, complications, and even deaths. What many people wonder, however, is, "Who exactly is having bariatric surgery? How common is it?" The truth is, bariatric surgery may be more common than you think.
Year to Year, Bariatric Surgery's Popularity Increases
In 2011, around 158,000 people had bariatric surgery, including sleeves, bands, revisions, and other bariatric surgeries. By 2017, on the other hand, approximately 228,000 people chose bariatric surgery to help them overcome the limitations and health challenges that go along with obesity--and, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, that number rose steadily throughout those six years. With continuing concern about the obesity epidemic in America as well as new, safer methods and higher success rates for bariatric surgery patients, the number of patients choosing bariatric surgery will likely continue to rise.
Who Gets Bariatric Surgery?
To qualify for bariatric surgery, a patient must have a qualifying body mass index--that is, a BMI that puts them in the obese range. Patients with a BMI over 30 are generally considered overweight, while patients with a BMI over 40 are often considered morbidly obese. This calculation, however, does not include all body types and does not stand as the only indicator of whether a patient qualifies for bariatric surgery. In addition to obesity, many patients also have qualifying health conditions.
Patients with diabetes. After bariatric surgery, many people with diabetes notice that their blood sugar levels stabilize. Sixty-two percent of people with diabetes who underwent bariatric surgery showed no signs of diabetes six years after that surgery.
Patients suffering from sleep apnea. Just a ten-pound increase in weight can increase your odds of developing obstructive sleep apnea more than six times. Since weight loss in any form can prove very helpful for patients with sleep apnea, bariatric surgery can be highly successful in reducing many of the symptoms associated with sleep apnea.
Patients with high blood pressure. Obese and morbidly obese patients are much more likely to suffer from high blood pressure than those without it. As a result, bariatric surgery can help normalize blood pressure levels and decrease many of the health problems associated with high blood pressure.
Patients with arthritis. Like many other diseases and conditions, arthritis occurs more often in obese patients than those with lower body weight. As a result, many patients with arthritis wonder whether bariatric surgery will help them effectively manage many of their symptoms. Following bariatric surgery, patients with arthritis may have fewer flare-ups and less pain than before the surgery. Lower weight may also put less pressure on the joints, which can help decrease overall pain levels.
Men Versus Women: Who is More Likely to Undergo Bariatric Surgery?
It's not just medical conditions that push people toward bariatric surgery, however. Gender may play an active role in determining whether you will opt for bariatric surgery or not--or even if you will consider it. While men and women have the same obesity rates across America, that doesn't necessarily make them equally likely to choose bariatric surgery as a viable option. Women undergo around 80% of bariatric surgeries, while men undergo only about 20%.
What causes the difference? Some of it may be a case of overall life satisfaction: obese women are more likely to have low satisfaction with life in general, while obese men may be more likely to experience satisfaction in everyday life than men of average body weight. While overweight individuals report low levels of body satisfaction, men have a greater ability to overlook that one aspect of life to allow them to enjoy other things, while women may focus on their flaws. Women, therefore, may be more likely to do something about it.
Women may also, in general, be more aware of the potential health impacts of obesity than men. This lack of education could prevent men from moving forward with a plan for bariatric surgery, even if they're experiencing many of the health complications often associated with obesity.
Bariatric Surgery By Age
Bariatric surgery is a procedure intended for adults: that is, it is not intended to help manage obesity in children under 18, who should turn to diet and exercise to help them more effectively manage potential symptoms of obesity. Over the age of 55, bariatric surgery can still help many patients experience positive outcomes and reduce many of the symptoms obese patients struggle with each day; however, the effectiveness of bariatric surgery in reducing mortality for patients over the age of 55 is not yet known. Over the age of 65, patients may face additional complications associated with bariatric surgery.
Does Geographic Location Make a Difference?
In some states, people are considerably more likely to turn to bariatric surgery in others, perhaps due in part to the availability of qualified providers. Minnesota and South Carolina, for example, each saw around 2500 cases of bariatric surgery in 2017, while Wyoming and Vermont experienced only around 140. Alaska had no known cases of bariatric surgery. The ten states in which bariatric surgery was most popular in 2017 include:
- Minnesota (2519 cases)
- South Carolina (2499 cases)
- Kansas (2376 cases)
- Oklahoma (2271 cases)
- Iowa (2044 cases)
- Arkansas (1954 cases)
- Nevada (1783 cases)
- Oregon (1667 cases)
- Mississippi (1527 cases)
- Utah (1453 cases)
While geographic area shouldn't stop you from seeking a qualified bariatric surgeon, it can pose barriers: health insurance approval, finding a skilled surgeon, or the need to travel far away from home. Being in the right geographic area can also make a big difference in learning about bariatric surgery or seeing examples of its success in others around you.
Are you considering bariatric surgery as part of your health journey? If so, we can help! Contact us today to learn more about your bariatric surgery options and how they can change your life.