Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the gradual loss of kidney function that hinders the body’s ability to filter wastes and excess fluids from the blood that are then passed in urine. Nearly one in two people with kidney disease also suffer from obesity, a condition that affects more than 40% of the U.S. population – and that number continues to rise. Bariatric or weight loss surgery is emerging as a new treatment option for people who have CKD with obesity and that may need a kidney transplant without medical intervention.
Although there’s research ongoing into the reasons why bariatric surgery impacts the progression of chronic kidney disease, we do see improvement of kidney function as evidenced by blood and urine chemical levels. Significant weight loss often improves diabetes and hypertension control which can also contribute to kidney failure. In some individuals, weight loss surgery can reverse or even halt the course of chronic kidney disease.
There continues to be a stigma around bariatric surgery for two main reasons – that it’s a quick fix for people who don’t want to work at losing weight and that it’s unsafe. Both reasons are simply not true. First, overcoming obesity and its associated health conditions is not just about having will power – there are enormous mental, emotional and genetic factors along with other medical issues that keep people from being able to lose weight on their own. Most of my patients have spent years trying without success to lose weight and keep it off, and they consider weight loss surgery only after they’ve tried every other option.
Secondly, it’s important to remember that any surgery comes with real risks but that bariatric procedures have improved greatly in the last 20 years – making them as safe as having an appendix removed. We also offer a multidisciplinary team that includes specialized bariatric nurses and dietary, psychology and exercise support to walk with you every step of the way. Bariatric surgery continues to evolve, and my hope is that more people will see it for what it is – a safe and effective tool to help people live longer and healthier lives.
To schedule an appointment at CHI Memorial Metabolic and Bariatric Care, call (423) 899-1000. Free online educational seminars are available. Register at here.