Research has shown that one third of Americans are affected by obesity. With the increase in surgery comes the increase in weight loss surgery procedures. Do the benefits outweigh the risks and how safe are they?

Obesity causes a number of serious and life threatening diseases. These include:

* Type 2 diabetes
* Heart disease
* Stroke

They have also been linked to some cancers such as colon cancer and breast cancer and more recently, pancreatic cancer. The condition adversely affects the quality of life of the sufferers and leaves them depressed and immobile. It is for this reason that overweight individuals look for remedies for this condition.

Bariatric or weight loss surgery is a common intervention sought by obese people. If the BMI of an individual is 30 he or she is said to be obese. Severely obese individuals have a BMI of 40 and above.

The three bariatric procedures that are immensely popular are:

* Gastric bypass
* Gastric banding
* Sleeve gastrectomy

The most popular of these is the gastric bypass. This involves the re-routing of the digestive system past the stomach in order to enhance the feeling of satiety and suppress hunger.

The gastric band procedure involves the placing of a tape or band on the upper part of the stomach thus making it smaller. This means a smaller gastric pouch and less food will give a feeling of fullness.

In the case of a sleeve gastrectomy, 80 percent of the stomach is removed thus giving a very small gastric pouch. Only a drastically reduced amount of food can be consumed.

The recovery from these procedures depends largely on the individual. It could take several months before a patient can resume his normal diet after surgery. Usually a liquid diet is followed and food slowly re introduced.

Bariatric surgery has shown positive results in the past. It is significantly more effective compared with the non surgical alternatives. Moreover research has shown that this surgery is associated to fewer cardiovascular events including heart attack and stroke and has led to improved sex drive.

There are however many complications involved with bariatric surgery. The side effects of gastric banding may involve dilation of the esophagus if the patient overeats. Gastric bypass procedures also come with certain risks. Research shows that they can lead to ling term vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Lifelong supplementation is the only solution.