Using Weight-Loss Surgery to Improve Chronic Kidney Disease


Chronic kidney disease (CKD), or chronic kidney failure, is the body’s gradual loss of kidney function. When kidneys lose their ability to function, they aren’t able to properly filter wastes and excess fluids from the blood. Dangerous levels of fluid, electrolytes and wastes can build up in your body without the function of your kidneys.

CKD affects more than 200,000 people a year in the U.S. alone. Of those individuals, half will also suffer from obesity. The association between obesity and CKD has led to research for new treatments that may help both conditions. Namely, bariatric or weight loss surgery is an emerging option for individuals who may eventually need a kidney transplant.

Research is ongoing into how and why bariatric surgery impacts the development of chronic kidney disease; however, studies show improved kidney function in individuals who have opted for the surgery. Significant weight loss typically improves diabetes and hypertension control— both of which contribute to kidney failure. In some patients, weight loss surgery can reverse, or even halt, the development of chronic kidney disease. With the development of weight loss surgery and its application toward improving the conditions of CKD, obesity can be viewed as a modifiable risk factor.

Rethinking the Stigma

Despite research showing how it can be beneficial to those with CKD, there continues to be a stigma around bariatric surgery. This stigma exists for two main reasons: the belief that it’s a quick fix for people who don’t want to work at losing weight, and the belief that it’s unsafe. These reasons, however, are unfounded.

Overcoming obesity and its associated health conditions isn’t as simple as having the willpower. There are many reasons (mental, emotional, genetic or otherwise) people may not be able to lose weight on their own. Many patients spend years trying to lose weight and keep it off. Weight loss surgery is considered as a last resort, after having exhausted all other options.

What’s more, every surgery comes with its set of risks. Bariatric procedures have improved greatly over the last 20 years, and they are now considered as safe as having an appendix removed. CHI Memorial offers a multidisciplinary team that includes specialized bariatric nurses and dietary, psychology and exercise support to walk with you throughout the entire process.

Like all other procedures, bariatric surgery continues to evolve and improve. It should be seen as exactly what it is: a safe, effective tool for helping people live longer and healthier lives.

CHI Memorial Metabolic and Bariatric Care offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to surgical weight loos to help individuals struggling with obesity lose weight and keep it off. For more information, call 423.899.1000. Or register free online – and virtual – educational seminar at