How Weight Loss Can Improve Liver Function

Weight loss surgery can reduce your risk of serious health conditions, including fatty liver disease. Here’s what you need to know.

For people suffering from obesity, bariatric surgery isn’t just an effective weight loss strategy, it’s an important part of improving overall health. Numerous studies have shown that bariatric surgery can reverse type 2 diabetes, improve respiratory function, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and different kinds of cancer. From a more holistic standpoint, weight loss through bariatric surgery boosts your mood, improves your sleep, and even reverses the signs of aging

New benefits of weight loss surgery are uncovered every day. In this article, we’re shining the spotlight on bariatric surgery’s ability to treat or prevent liver disease. Here’s what you need to know.  

What Is Fatty Liver Disease?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs when excess fat builds up around the liver, which can lead to liver inflammation and damage to the liver tissue. NAFLD is the third most common cause of liver disease in the United States and it’s expected to affect up to 25 percent of adults worldwide. NAFLD often doesn’t cause any symptoms, but when it does it frequently manifests as fatigue and pain around the upper right abdomen. 

If liver disease is left untreated, it can progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is an aggressive and more dangerous form of liver disease. With NASH, liver inflammation may become advanced liver scarring (cirrhosis) and even lead to liver failure. Symptoms include abdominal swelling, enlarged blood vessels, and jaundice.

Obesity and fatty liver disease are tightly intertwined. In fact, as many as 90 percent of people with obesity and/or type 2 diabetes also have fatty liver disease. Many medical professionals believe that NAFLD is caused by insulin resistance, which is related to obesity. When you cannot process and regulate insulin effectively, blood sugar builds up in the body. This raises your risk of developing diabetes and heart disease and increases the number of fat molecules in the blood. These fat molecules accumulate in liver cells and eventually cause fatty liver disease. 

How Weight Loss Can Help

For people who are overweight, weight loss is the best way to treat NAFLD and NASH — or prevent these diseases from occurring altogether. A landmark 2015 study in the Gastroenterology journal found that losing 10 percent of your excess weight can reduce fat around your liver, reduce inflammation, and potentially improve liver scarring. People who have gastric bypass lose six times the weight necessary to improve liver function. When you crunch the numbers, it’s clear that losing weight is key to reducing your risk of liver disease.

However, it’s critical to lose weight the right way. If diet and exercise alone haven’t worked in the past, bariatric surgery is the safest and most effective strategy to lose weight (and keep it off for good). After weight loss surgery, you can expect to lose weight gradually and reach your goal weight in about 18 months. 

Medical professionals also recommend maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen consisting of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week to keep your liver healthy. Weight loss surgery can help with this as well. After a gastric bypass or gastric sleeve procedure, you’ll get full faster and have an easier time eating well. Surgery also reduces painful pressure on your joints, which increases mobility and makes it easier to maintain an active lifestyle. 

Talk To The Experts

To find out more about the health benefits of bariatric surgery, contact the weight loss specialists at Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors today. We’ll walk you through your treatment options and get you started on your journey to a happier, healthier you.