By Cynthia K. Buffington, PhD
Before your surgery, did you have hypertension, lipid abnormalities, heart disease, or diabetes? Did you have trouble sleeping at night because of acid reflux? Did you snore at night and sometimes have trouble staying awake during the day? Did your joints ache when you walked and would exertion cause you to ‘huff and puff’?
How many of the health problems that you had before surgery are completely cured now? How many of these problems are improved? Have you been able to stop taking most of your medications?
Studies have found that obesity surgery cures or improves numerous health conditions. Nearly half of individuals suffering from morbid obesity, for instance, have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Long-term studies find that bariatric surgery halts the progression of pre-diabetes to diabetes and reduces the risk of death from diabetes by more than 90%.
Cardiovascular problems that could increase your chance of having a heart attack are also quite common with morbid obesity. Our studies and others have shown that more than 50% of pre-surgical patients have hypertension, 40% to 60% suffer from lipid abnormalities, more than 90% have an enlarged heart, and as many as 12% to 15% are in congestive heart failure. Following surgery, nearly all of these conditions are either greatly improved and are, in more than 80% of cases, resolved.
Conditions common to the majority of pre-surgical patients that interfere with a good night’s sleep, such as obstructive sleep apnea or acid reflux, are also improved or resolved by surgery, allowing for greater vitality and mental focus during the day. Along with the improved vitality of a good night’s sleep, the massive weight loss of obesity surgery enhances the desire for more physical exertion by reducing joint stress and joint diseases, such as osteoarthritis or gout, and by improving lung function and breathing capacity.
Intimate relationships may blossom following surgery as sex hormone production and actions are restored to normal and self-esteem improves. The psychological distress resultant of the physical or emotional effects of obesity are also alleviated with surgery, reducing stress hormone production and other messengers that could adversely influence health.
Can you think of other health and emotional benefits of surgery? Make a list of the positive health (and other) changes you have experienced since surgery. Then, on days when you are feeling down, pull out that list and reread it. You may find that doing so could help to change a negative attitude to one of gratitude.