Weight Loss Surgery Can Help With Breathing Problems, Study Shows

Posted: April 9th, 2020
weight loss surgery can improve breathing problems

A recent study has found that weight loss surgery can help ease breathing problems by reducing pressure on the lungs. 


Labored or disrupted breathing is one of the many health complications associated with obesity. Excess fat around the abdomen puts pressure on the lungs and weakens the respiratory muscles, which forces the body to work harder to take a full breath. Further, fatty tissue can cause inflammation in the airway and make breathing painful.  

People who undergo weight loss surgery often feel like a weight has been lifted off of their chests afterward, both literally and figuratively. In fact, new research has found that patients who have bariatric surgery may see an improvement in their respiratory issues. Here’s what you need to know. 

New Study Finds Weight Loss Surgery Can Improve Breathing

In order to conclude that weight loss surgery improves lung function, a group of British researchers decided to examine if there was a significant difference between CT scans of patients’ lungs before and six months after bariatric surgery. They conducted a longitudinal study of 51 participants who underwent gastric bypass and measured their tracheal size and shape and any instances of air-trapping. Air trapping occurs when excess air stays in the lungs after inhaling. It is a sign that each breath isn’t full because there’s something partially obstructing the airway.

The study uncovered a fascinating connection. After having lost 60 to 65 pounds with the help of bariatric surgery, the study’s participants reported that they felt less breathless and researchers confirmed that the appearance and function of their lungs had improved. According to CT scans, the study’s participants had wider tracheas, less air trapping, fewer windpipe blockages, and fewer bouts of shortness of breath. 

By quantifying an effect that many people had already felt was true — “I feel less breathless now that I’ve had surgery” — bariatric surgery specialists and counselors can now confidently report that weight loss surgery improves patients’ breathing. You can dig deeper into the results and implications of this study in the January issue of the Radiology medical journal.

Breathing Easy After Bariatric Surgery

In addition to helping you become healthier overall by reducing your risk of serious complications like breast cancer and type 2 diabetes, losing weight can also dramatically improve your lung function. As this study shows, many common respiratory issues lessen or resolve completely once excess pounds have been shed. 

Several other studies have shown that losing weight reduces the risk of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder strongly associated with obesity that occurs when breathing is periodically obstructed during the night. Further, when you’re well-rested, you’re more likely to make healthier choices in terms of diet and exercise, helping you sustain the numerous benefits of weight loss surgery.     

Also, bariatric surgery helps improve your breathing long-term as it strengthens your heart and lungs. Weight loss surgery takes painful pressure off of your joints, increases mobility, and makes it easier to be more active once you’ve reached a healthy weight. Regular exercise then trains your body on how to bring in more oxygen to power your muscles, which helps your lungs get stronger and keeps you from feeling breathless during your workouts or in everyday life.  

Interested in learning more about how weight loss surgery can help you live longer, feel better, and breathe easier? Contact the weight loss experts at Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors today. Our dedicated team will walk you through your weight loss options and help you choose the procedure that’s right for you.