"We can treat increased blood sugars with medications, but we are reversing complications [with surgery]," said Dr. Robin Blackstone, current president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. "We are moving away from treating people just because they are obese and now we have disease specific indications for surgery such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes."
The procedure does not come without risks, especially since those who qualify for weight loss surgery are typically at least 100 pounds overweight. But it's not just undergoing the surgery that poses a risk.
A study released Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that weight loss surgery can increase a person's risk for alcohol-related problems by up to 50 percent.
Most patients experience psychological and physical changes, and are informed about the risks before surgery. But these risks increase if the patient does not follow up with their physician or is not monitored properly after surgery, said Ponce.
"Patients need to understand that there is a team and a practice and a hospital ready to take care of them," said Ponce. "It's not a one-time surgical procedure; there is constant follow up."
"They need to commit themselves to the idea that this is a long-term lifestyle change they need to actively participate in," said Ponce.