Is Bariatric Surgery a Cure for Sleep Apnea?

William Howard Taft, 27th President of the United States

Obesity is certainly not a new problem. William Howard Taft, our 27th President of the United States weighed in at over 300lbs. It is suspected that he suffered from severe sleep apnea until he lost approximately 80lbs following his presidency.

Obesity has become an increasingly prominent problem in today’s society. With the convenience of fast food and a busy lifestyle that doesn’t allow for time to exercise, more and more people are gaining weight and the scales are continuing to go in the wrong direction. Obesity has begun to affect people of all ages, especially children, which is why so many health professionals are looking to spread the word about the effects of obesity. It is a condition that is known to take years off of your life because of the various health problems it can cause. Diabetes, stroke, sleep apnea, and hypertension are all conditions often caused by carrying excess weight.

So what’s the fix? When it comes to treating obesity, obviously you have to lose the weight, but how? Some patients are able to diet to shed the pounds while others focus more on exercising as a way to burn calories. However for some patients diet and exercise isn’t enough, so other means of weight-loss are considered. Losing weight is extremely important for those patients who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. Not only is being overweight shortening that patient’s life but so is the constant stops in breathing at night.

Many patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea will undergo a sleep study to be diagnosed and will then follow up with a sleep physician as well as a sleep apnea dentist to talk about possible Sleep apnea treatments. If it has been proven that a patient’s obstructive sleep apnea is caused by excess weight, part of the treatment for his sleep apnea must be to lose weight. For many patients, losing weight requires outside help from a nutritionist, a personal trainer, or some other health professional. Others take the more aggressive approach of resorting to bariatric surgery.

Weight-loss surgery has become an extremely popular method for weight-loss, but patients should always remember that the surgery is invasive, and sometimes irreversible, and should be considered as a last resort option. If dieting and exercising has failed, then a patient may want to look into the various weight-loss surgeries available today. Just keep in mind that it is important to treat your sleep apnea while you are trying to lose weight. Untreated sleep apnea is very dangerous and will only sabotage your weight loss efforts because, without proper, healthy sleep, you’ll be too tired to exercise.

Another important note: sleep apnea is not just an obese person’s disease! Professional athletes, even marathon runners, can all develop obstructive sleep apnea due to other physiologic reasons. Obesity is just a very common contributing factor.

So, is bariatric surgery the cure for sleep apnea? No, but it can certainly be part of an effective sleep apnea treatment plan for some individuals.