Cosmetic weight loss surgery is definitely a life changing procedure and in some instances it can even be life saving. These extreme measures are typically suitable for patients who are obese and have not had any success in losing weight through traditional means. Many have even tried some medically supervised strategies for weight loss which use diet modification, exercise and in some cases medications. When these measures fail to work for an obese or overweight individual they may choose to speak with a plastic surgeon who can help them choose an appropriate surgical procedure to be used for cosmetic weight loss. Over the last few years the statistics on obesity have soared and about 18 million people in the US are considered to be obese or at least 100 pounds over their ideal weight. With this rise in numbers also comes the number of cosmetic weight loss procedures. According to the American Society for Bariatric Surgery the number of patients seeking some form of weight loss procedure has increased from 16000 in the early 90s to about 180000 by 2005. This sharp increase in obesity is most likely behind the increase in cosmetic weight loss surgeries. Most can agree that they are an appropriate way to deal with obesity but the question is how safe are they?
Are cosmetic weight loss procedures safe?
Every surgery from the minimally invasive procedure to the full blown surgery carries with it a certain amount of risk. There is always a risk of infection, bleeding and a wide variety of problems or complications which can arise depending on the nature of the procedure. Each of the cosmetic weight loss procedures or surgeries has its own set of risks as well as advantages. For a large part, these procedures are safe when they are conducted by a board certified plastic surgeon. Most of the procedures have certain characteristics which can cause the patient problems from time to time. As a general rule procedures are safe and serious or life threatening side effects are rare.
How safe is gastric banding?
Gastric banding is a procedure in which a band is placed around the stomach to restrict its size so that an individual cannot consume food in large quantities. This procedure will not see such a dramatic weight loss as some of the other weight loss methods, and some people may end up gaining some of the weight back in later years. The most common side effect from this type of cosmetic weight loss procedure is vomiting. This can happen if the patient eats too much too fast. The procedure is safe with the most common problem being that the band slips out of place. Complications are very unlikely.
How safe is a gastric bypass?
This is one of the most common of all body sculpting procedures. In the major operation the stomach is divided into two parts and the lower section is sealed off from the upper. The surgeon will bypass the lower stomach and attach the stomach to the small intestine. This method keeps fewer calories from being absorbed into the body. The surgery can mean that the patient loses a substantial amount of weight in a relatively short period of time; but it also carries more risks with it. There is a very low risk that any complications will be life threatening. Blood clots and infection are the primary concern, but this is not unique, it is true with any surgical procedure. This procedure can increase the risk of hernias. But overall the procedure is safe when performed by a qualified physician.