What to know about weight loss surgery and other options

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In the United States, nearly 1 in 3 adults is overweight, and more than 2 in 5 are obese. For some, weight loss can be a lifelong challenge and according to our experts, obesity is a disease. If you or a loved one has struggled to lose weight and keep it off through diet and exercise, you could look into other options such as weight loss surgery.

A person on a bathroom scale hides the numbers with her foot because she is unsure of her weight.

What are common weight loss options?

Many people with a high body mass index (BMI) can’t lose enough weight to normalize their BMI without medical intervention. Here are a few common options.

Surgical procedures

Surgery is one of the most common — and most effective — options for weight loss. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, more than 279,000 weight loss procedures were performed in 2022. Gastric sleeve surgery (or vertical sleeve gastrectomy) was the most popular procedure, followed by Roux–en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB).


Medications can also be effective for weight loss. These medications are available as injectables or pills. Most work by increasing the sense of satiety and slowing the emptying of the stomach. While weight loss drugs are a noninvasive option, they’re designed to be taken long term. Stopping use comes with a high risk of regaining weight.

Are weight loss drugs safe?

Weight loss drugs are generally safe, but they can have side effects. Studies have shown that some weight loss drug users stop using them because of these side effects. In fact, some weight loss pills have been removed from the market due to health concerns. Also, weight loss drugs can interact with other medications. It’s important to consult with your doctor before deciding whether to take them.

Who’s a good candidate for weight loss surgery?

Depending on your circumstances, surgery can be an excellent alternative to weight loss drugs, providing significant outcomes at around 50% to 70% loss of excess weight. You may be a good candidate for surgery if you have:

  • A BMI of 30 or more and obesity-related health problems such as Type 2 diabetes
  • A BMI of 35 or more

What are the benefits of weight loss surgery?

  • Improves quality of life
  • Reduces the risk of weight-related health concerns
  • Supports long-term weight management

Risks and recovery

Thanks to enhanced delivery of care and the advent of minimally invasive surgery, weight loss surgery is generally safe. However, there are potential risks around the need to adjust food consistency, especially in the early recovery period. Also, side effects can include bleeding, blood clots and changes in bowel function.

If you decide surgery is right for you, then you may have to follow a liquid diet for one to two weeks and slowly transition to eating solid foods. Returning to normal unlimited activities post-surgery can take up to four weeks.

Talk to your doctor about your options

If you’re interested in exploring weight loss surgery visit with the team at the Denver Center for Bariatric Surgery.  You can also take a Health Assessment to see if you are a good candidate. 

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