Jay Michael Snow, MD

St Louis Bariatrics

Is Bariatric Surgery Safe?

The short answer is yes, bariatric surgery is widely considered to be safe by prominent health experts and trustworthy medical organizations. Studies show that bariatric surgery has a mortality rate of less than 1%, giving it an almost 100% survival rate.1 The more relevant question may be, is bariatric surgery right for YOU? Or for your loved one? Taking the time to research your options and learn about the risks and benefits of bariatric surgery is an important first step in determining if weight loss surgery is a safe choice for you.

Do Experts Think That Weight Loss Surgery is Safe?

“Only bariatric surgery can provide substantial and maintained weight loss, which in turn results in improvement of obesity-related co-morbidities and quality of life.2 – Journal of the American Medical Association

In addition to the American Medical Association, other prestigious groups who have officially endorsed the safety of bariatric surgery include the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the American Heart Association (AHA), and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, weight loss surgery is as safe as many common surgical procedures, such as gallbladder surgery.3 There is a consensus among experts that a patient’s chance of a safe outcome is much better when they choose an experienced and board-certified surgeon to perform their procedure.

Treat your Obesity | Patient Learning Center | American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery

Why Do People Think Bariatric Surgery is Unsafe?

Some people form the opinion that bariatric surgery is unsafe based on anecdotal evidence, meaning that they may have had a friend who encountered complications after gastric sleeve or they heard of an acquaintance who died after gastric bypass. However, without knowing the medical history, the timeline of events, or other complex factors, it is irresponsible to say that a procedure is dangerous – especially when many patients feel that their bariatric surgery actually saved their lives.

The Risks of Bariatric Surgery Compared With the Risks of Obesity

Obesity is a chronic disease that can cause other, life-threatening conditions. The health risks of living with morbid obesity include4:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cancer, including colon, liver, kidney, and breast cancers
  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
  • Heart Disease
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Infertility
  • Joint Pain

In contrast to the great risk of living with obesity, bariatric surgery has actually been shown to improve many obesity-related medical conditions in 90% of bariatric patients!5 In particular, Type 2 Diabetes can be significantly improved with weight loss surgery. Over 70% of patients who have gastric sleeve see a complete remission of diabetic indicators and symptoms.6 Learn more about weight loss surgery and diabetes.

What is the Safest Type of Weight Loss Surgery?

The safest weight loss procedure is the one that is right for you. The overall safety profile for weight loss procedures is favorable, but each type of surgery may have differing potential side effects that can be more or less likely, depending on an individual patient’s risk factors. There are two important things you can do in order to have the best outcome possible:

  • Choose a bariatric surgeon who will take the time to thoroughly evaluate your health and take into account your medical history and your lifestyle to help you determine your options.
  • Make sure to schedule follow up care with your surgeon, and have a solid plan to make lifestyle changes and follow healthy eating and activity guidelines, as directed by your bariatric care team.

St. Louis Bariatrics offers a full range of bariatric surgery, such as Gastric Sleeve and Gastric Bypass, as well as non-surgical weight loss options, including Gastric Balloon and Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty (ESG).

Can Weight Loss Surgery Improve Your Life?

At St. Louis Bariatrics, experienced bariatric surgeon Dr. Jay Michael Snow adheres to the highest standards of patient safety. We have helped many people in St. Louis, as well as those who have traveled to see us. Our patients often report that they feel more confident and have more energy to do the things they enjoy such as playing sports, traveling, or keeping up with kids or grandkids. Some patients are even able to reduce or eliminate medications that they worried they would be dependent on for life. See real patient stories and before and after photos.

The best way to learn if weight loss surgery can improve your quality of life is to schedule a consultation appointment. Contact us with any questions or to schedule an appointment.


1The Archives of Surgery 2007;142(10):923-928. doi:10.1001/archsurg.142.10.923
2Groessl, Kaplan, Barrett-Connor, Ganiats. Obese older adults tend to have lower quality of life than normal or overweight individuals. Am J Prev Med 2004;26(2):126-9 (AHRQ grant HS09170)
5 Wittgrove A.C., Clark G.W. Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass Roux-en-Y – 500 patients: technique and results with 3-60 month follow-up. Obes Surg 2000 Jun; 10(3): 233-9.
6 Journal of Diabetes Research 2015; 2015: 674268. Published online 2015 Apr 14. Doi

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