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Recently, a number of high-profile celebrities, from TV weatherman Al Roker to American Idol's Randy Jackson, have made headlines as a result of undergoing weight loss surgery. Supporters of such surgery say that it offers hope for people who seem unable to lose weight any other way. They maintain that it is difficult to lose 50 or more pounds without surgical intervention. Critics, however, maintain that surgery—especially stomach surgery—is risky business and should be approached with the utmost caution. They worry that surgery is a quick fix which does not help to resolve an individual's problem dealing with food.

You might wonder under what conditions surgery would be recommended. Generally speaking, surgery is only an option for those who have suffered from obesity for a protracted period of time (meaning years), have a body mass index or BMI of more than 40, and whose lives could be cut short because of their excessive weight gain. Also, stomach stapling surgery is usually limited to those who have already reached adulthood.

Conversely, you would not be a candidate for stomach reduction surgery if you have been severely overweight for a short period of time; if you suffer from drug or alcohol addiction; or you have been diagnosed with mental illness. In other words, you need to be fully cognizant and have a detailed understanding of the reasons for your obesity.

You should know that stomach reduction surgery is a proven weight-reducer. You could lose nearly all of your extra weight by undergoing the procedure. Thus, surgery may negate the need for a diet plan, although there is the slim possibility that you could end up putting on additional pounds after your operation.

There are a myriad of reasons why you might consider stomach stapling surgery. For instance, if you are suffering from adult onset diabetes or heart trouble, you might want to undergo the operation. If you are so obese that you can barely walk, surgery might be for you. If your weight has gotten to the point where you literally find it difficult to get out of bed, an operation might be appropriate.

Of course, stomach stapling surgery is not without its risks. In less than two percent of the cases, death may occur. Also, there is the possibility that after surgery you may experience vomiting if you attempt to eat too much. And then there's the psychological fallout. If you've been a heavy person all your life, you may have trouble adjusting to your new thin status. You may even find that your relationships with relatives and friends change after you have undergone surgery. As a result of this, some physicians recommend that candidates for stomach stapling surgery meet with a psychotherapist who can help them develop coping mechanisms before and after the surgery.

Obviously, undergoing surgery is a serious step—one that should not be undertaken lightly. As a result, you might want to ask yourself some questions before going under the knife: Why do I want to undergo surgery? What if I discover there are unexpected side-effects from surgery? Will I be able to deal with them? What are my options if I do not undergo surgery? Will my family and friends support my decision to undergo an operation? Am I considering surgery out of vanity, or because of a serious health threat? Will years be added to my life after I undergo surgery?

Of course, you cannot make the decision for stomach surgery on your own. You will need to consult your family physician to determine if an operation is right for you. If your doctor gives the O.K., you will then have to meet with the surgeon. Make sure to check the surgeon's credentials and consider having a second opinion. The more preparation you do before your operation, the better off you will be. Obviously, stomach stapling surgery is not for everyone. It carries with it physical and emotional risks. However, the prognosis for those who undergo such surgery is good. And you could end up being in much better health in the long run, if you are able to successfully lose your excess weight

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