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4 unexpected perks of weight-loss surgery

Weight-loss surgery helps countless people around the world feel better every year, but did you know benefits of the procedure extend far beyond seeing a lower number when you step on the scale?

Surgery is the most effective weight-loss tool for some people

Many people believe that all it takes to lose weight is determination mixed with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. Research shows it's not always that straightforward, though: Just 2 percent of bariatric patients who rely on diet and exercise alone are able to lose weight and keep it off, compared with up to 80 percent of people who undergo surgery.

Bariatric surgery is minimally invasive

Bariatric surgery at Gundersen Health System is minimally invasive. This means that small incisions are made to complete the procedure—unlike when you undergo open surgery. Minimally invasive surgery often results in fewer complications, less pain and a quicker recovery. Most people leave the hospital just one night after their procedure and require very little pain medication afterward.

You can still enjoy food after surgery

If you have fears around never being able to enjoy tasty meals after surgery, rest assured that delicious food can still be in your future. After an initial three-week recovery period that includes a full liquid diet, you will begin to introduce regular foods back into your daily routine, with the help of a registered dietitian and the rest of your care team. You'll eat less than you used to—and likely focus on getting more protein and fewer carbs—but it's still common to sit down to eat three meals and a few snacks every day.

Surgery is the only cure for diabetes

While most people tout weight loss as the main benefit of bariatric surgery, the procedure can significantly improve your health in other ways, too. In fact, bariatric surgery is the only known cure for diabetes. How does it work? Thanks to hormone changes after surgery, your body is better able to use glucose—so much so that people often see drastic improvements in their diabetes even before they notice any weight loss.

It's also common for patients with hypertension to see their high blood pressure lower almost immediately. Within days, some people can stop taking their blood pressure medication altogether.

These effects of surgery have led more and more healthcare professionals to begin referring to bariatric surgery as metabolic surgery instead.

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