‘Bariatric surgery’ is the most commonly used medical term for different types of ‘weight-loss surgeries.’
Surgical methods of obesity treatment are normally recommended to patients by the doctors only when fat burning diets, supplements, and physical exercises fail to produce the desired weight loss results.
People with extreme obesity conditions often require weight loss surgery to resize the stomach to reduce the eating capacity or non-surgical liposuction to remove the excess fat storage bags in the body.
Unlike the other weight loss methods, surgical obesity solutions are sure to produce a result. However, the person who lost weight through surgery can become obese again after a few months or years.
There are different types of obesity surgery options available depending upon the specific obesity conditions and needs of the obese individual.
All weight-loss surgeries are usually performed with the help of laparoscopy to view the inside part of the stomach and intestine.
The surgeon usually performs several small incisions to make the necessary changes in the stomach and intestine.
Types Of Weight Loss Surgery / Bariatric Surgery
Generally, four different types of Bariatric Surgery procedures are used for weight reduction.
1. Gastric Bypass
This is a major surgery in which a part of the stomach is removed. In medical parlance, it is called, “Roux-en-Y” gastric bypass, or RYGB.
After this surgery, the food that the person consumes directly goes into the small intestine from the pouch. The food bypasses the normal course of its journey in the large intestine.
This surgery is performed with the help of laparoscopy, and several small incisions are made to make necessary alterations in the stomach and intestines.
2. Gastric Sleeve
This surgery is quite similar to the gastric bypass. In this surgery, only a little upper part of the stomach is left, and the rest is fully removed.
3. Adjustable Gastric Band
The tightness of this band is controlled by a small balloon inside the band. As the person eats the food, the band steadily increases the tightness to reduce the space inside the stomach.
4. Duodenal Switch
This is a major surgery in which a large portion of the stomach is removed. Major alterations are made to ensure that food from gastric sleeves of the stomach completely bypasses the small intestine.[12,13]
A very little amount of food can be eaten at a time after this surgery.
Since the food bypasses the small intestine, the body can absorb only a very limited amount of calories and nutrients. The people who undergo this surgery will require an additional supply of vitamins and nutrients.
Besides these four usual stomach surgeries, another surgical method is the ‘electric implant’ (Maestro Rechargeable System). The electric implant in the abdomen is used to deliver electrical pulses to the vagus nerve between the stomach and brain. It sends signals to the brain to stop hunger pangs when the stomach is moderately full.[14,15]
Benefits Of Weight Loss Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgeries have proven benefits in weight loss. Most people who undergo any weight loss surgeries usually experience a great amount of weight loss at a steady rate of up to 24 months.
It is also found that even the particular medical conditions associated with obesity also vanish with fat loss results got from the surgeries.
As the body begins to shed weight rapidly, diabetes and high blood pressure conditions also improve steadily.
The long-term studies show the surgical process has proven long-term weight loss results, diabetes reversal, reduction in cardiovascular risk factors and up to 40% reduction in mortality arising out of severe obesity conditions.
It may not produce survival benefit associated with bariatric surgery among older as per one of the studies in Veterans Affairs (VA) patients.
Risks and Side Effects Of Weight Loss Surgeries
Long-term post-surgery problems vary according to the type of surgery the patient has received.
All surgeries done for weight reduction involves alterations of the stomach size or digestive process including food bypassing of the small or large intestine.
As bariatric surgery initiates significant changes digestive system some of the patients might experience bloating, diarrhea, dizziness, increased sweating, nausea, and vomiting in the post-surgical period. These issues happen especially with gastric bypass causing “dumping syndrome,” in which food moves too quickly through the small intestine.[22,23]
One of the best ways to avoid these common side effects is to have more high-fiber foods instead of high sugar foods.
In some of the reported cases on the initial days after the surgery, some patients have suffered internal bleeding, leaks or infection over the areas where the stitches are done.
The weight reduction surgery propels rapid weight loss that may cause gallstones in some patients; in such a situation, the patient may need to be on bile salts supplement for six months to prevent it happening.
A few weeks after the surgery, some people may become weak as the surgery has reduced the natural capacity of the body to absorb the nutrients and vitamins. They need to take up additional vitamin and mineral supplements to overcome weakness in health.
Normally it is not advisable for the woman to bear a child in the post-surgery period when the weight loss is happening at a rapid rate. Pregnancy could be avoided until bodyweight becomes stable.
Here are some of the other possible negative impacts of bariatric surgery:
- The patient may get depressed post-surgery for a few months because of emotional changes associated with an eating disorder, self-esteem, and social functioning.
- As the body sheds weight rapidly, the skin does not shrink accordingly. It may take a long time for the skin to reshape according to body size. Some people may require cosmetic surgery to fix sagging skin.[26,27]
- Most patients undergo Gastric Bypass surgery will experience bouts of diarrhea known as dumping syndrome at some point post-surgery.[28,29]
- One study published in JAMA reports the increase admission in alcoholic dependence in people who had gastric bypass surgery. It happens mostly because most patients have higher peak alcohol levels after the surgery.
- The weight loss results of bariatric surgery are not permanent. The patients will have to follow up with strict diets and workouts to ensure post-surgery weight loss success.[31,32]
- Drinking soda and carbonated soft drinks will have to be given up after the weight loss surgery as they introduce a lot of air or gas bubbles into the reduced space of the stomach. It will undo the weight loss results obtained from surgery.
- The emotional changes that happen to the person in the post-surgery period may negatively affect the social and family relationships the person. The patients need to seek guidance from professional counselors to cope up with the emotional stress and deviation in a personal relationship in the post-surgery period.
Cost of Weight Loss Surgery
The costs of bariatric surgery depend on the type of procedure performed and the country and city where the operation is done.
In the United States Of America, the average total cost of different types of weight loss surgeries are as follows:-
- Roux-en-Y gastric bypass – $24,000
- Gastric Banding – $15,000
- Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy – $19,000
- Duodenal Switch – $27,000
The Bottom Line
The risks of weight reduction surgeries are low compared with doing nothing at all. Staying obese can be fatal as it will give rise to diseases like diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular issues.
The advanced techniques and medical systems developed in recent times have made weight loss surgeries much cheaper and more effective with less post-surgery health complications.
Most of the patients have got very positive results from this weight loss remedy, and they prefer to undergo bariatric surgery again if required in the future.
If you are thinking of weight loss surgery, it is important that you seek a lot of pre-operation guidance from bariatric doctors. You might require more guidance during the post-op period as life after surgery could be full of surprises – the good, bad and even downright embarrassing.