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Patient safety and quality of care are significant concerns within the United States healthcare system. According to the CDC more than a third of the US adults suffer from obesity.  Additionally, obesity is a chronic disease in the U.S. and is considered the second leading cause of preventable deaths in the country, according to the National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Obesity accounts for approximately 300,000 deaths per year, which puts considerable emphasis on studying the chronic condition.


Weight-Loss Procedures

There are various types of weight-loss surgery, but they all have the same common goal – lose weight and lower risk of health problems associated with obesity. Weight-loss procedures aim to either solve restriction by limiting the amount of food the stomach can hold (which limits calories consumed) or malabsorption by shortening the small intestine (which reduces the nutrients and calories the body absorbs). There are many different weight-loss procedures, four of which are a gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, Roux-en-Y, and duodenal switch.


Are They Safe?

All surgeries carry some risk, and weight-loss procedures are no exception. According to Bariatric Surgery Source, weight-loss surgeries have a 99.9 percent survival rate, and the health risks of remaining obese are higher than the risks of the procedure. Furthermore, according to a study by the Mercer University School of Medicine, those who were overweight have a significantly lower health-related quality of life than those of healthy weight.


Side Effects

While each weight-loss procedure is different, most have similar side effects including the loss of skin laxity, lack of nutrient absorption (in particular vitamin B12), dehydration, gallstones, kidney stones, the loss of food enjoyment, and many more. According to WebMD, more than a third of patients develop gallstones, masses of cholesterol that form in the gallbladder, after surgery. Other side effects such as eating too quickly, not chewing enough, taking big bites or eating dry foods can cause nausea or vomiting in many people. Additionally, consuming too much greasy or sugary foods can lead to diarrhea.


Long-Term Concerns

Weight-loss surgeries can provide a quick solution, but success is a long-term project. Not only is it essential after surgery to have a healthy diet and lifestyle, but there are also possible complications after surgery. According to WebMD, about 20 percent of people who opt for weight-loss surgery require further procedures for complications and as many as 30 percent deals with difficulties relating to malnutrition, like anemia or osteoporosis, since the intestines are absorbing fewer nutrients.


Mitra Rangarajan is an expert in the healthcare field and strives to empower patients to take charge of their health and safety. Read more on her patient safety research here!