Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is a surgical method of obesity treatment. The extreme weight loss option is normally recommended to patients by 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 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.
Depending on the specific obesity problem, and health condition of the obese individual, various types of obesity surgery are available. It’s the fastest way to help you achieve your weight loss goal.
All weight-loss surgeries are usually performed with the help of laparoscopy to view the inside parts of the stomach and intestine.
The surgeon usually performs several small incisions to make the necessary changes in the stomach and intestine.
Before the surgical procedure, a care team of surgeons and counselors will make the patient ready for surgery.
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) has the largest group of bariatric surgeons in the world.
Types of Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgery procedures include gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, gastric band, and duodenal switch.
1. Gastric Bypass
This is a major open surgery in which a part of the stomach is removed. In medical terminology, it is called a “Roux-en-Y“, laparoscopic gastric bypass, or RYGB.
Typically, it involves creating a small pouch in the upper stomach. This is done to reduce the stomach’s size so it can hold a very small amount of food.
After this surgery, the food the person consumes directly goes into the small intestine from the upper stomach 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 surgical weight loss procedure is quite similar to a gastric bypass. In this surgery, only a little of the upper part of the stomach is left, and the rest is fully removed.
The upper portion of the stomach is called a gastric sleeve. In most cases, with this surgery, doctors also curb the hunger hormone ghrelin to reduce the amount of food eaten.
Related article: Gastric Sleeve Vs. Gastric Bypass Surgery
3. Adjustable Gastric Band
This bariatric surgery procedure does not involve any alteration of the stomach or intestine. In this minimally invasive method, a small band is put around the upper portion of the stomach to reduce its size.
A small balloon inside the band controls and tightness of the band. As the person eats the food, the band steadily increases its 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 changes are made to ensure that food from the stomach’s gastric sleeves doesn’t go through the small intestine. Surgery is used to shorten or bypass part of the small intestine.
A very small 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 limited amount of calories and nutrients. People who have this surgery will need more vitamins and nutrients than usual.
Besides these four routine 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 the brain. It signals the brain to stop hunger pangs when the stomach is moderately full.
Benefits Of Surgical Weight Loss
Bariatric surgeries help you lose weight quickly. Most people who undergo weight loss surgery lose a significant amount of weight over 12 to 24 months.
It is also found that even the particular medical conditions associated with obesity vanish with the fat loss results obtained from the surgeries.
Diabetes and high blood pressure get better over time as the body loses weight quickly.
The long-term studies show the surgical process has proven long-term weight loss results, diabetes reversal, a reduction in cardiovascular risk factors, and up to a 40% reduction in mortality arising from severe obesity conditions.
It may not produce the survival benefits associated with bariatric surgery among older patients, as per one of the studies on Veterans Affairs (VA) patients.
Most weight loss surgeries are best for obese people with a BMI of 35 to 40 who don’t have any other health problems or a BMI of 30 to 35 who have serious health problems.
However, the most recent ASMBS guidelines suggest that people with a BMI of 30 or above and comorbidities could opt for suitable weight control surgery to lose weight.
Weight Loss Surgery Risks and Side Effects
Long-term post-surgery problems vary according to the type of surgery the patient has received.
All surgeries done for weight reduction involve alterations of the stomach size or digestive process, including food bypassing the small or large intestine.
As bariatric surgery initiates significant changes in the digestive system, some patients might experience bloating, diarrhea, dizziness, increased sweating, nausea, and vomiting in the post-surgical period. These issues happen especially with gastric bypass, which causes “dumping syndrome,” in which food moves too quickly through the small intestine.
One of the best ways to avoid these common side effects is to eat more high-fiber foods instead of high-sugar foods.
In some 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 a bile salt supplement for six months to prevent it from happening.
A few weeks after the surgery, some people may become weak as the surgery has reduced the body’s natural capacity to absorb nutrients and vitamins. They need to take additional vitamin and mineral supplements to overcome their health weaknesses.
Normally, the woman shouldn’t have a child post-surgery when weight loss is occurring rapidly. Pregnancy could be avoided until the body weight stabilizes.
Other Possible Drawbacks Of Bariatric Surgery
After surgery, the person may feel sad for a few months because of emotional changes caused by an eating disorder, low self-esteem, or trouble getting along with others.
As the body sheds weight rapidly, the skin does not shrink accordingly. The skin may take a long time to reshape according to the body’s size. Some people may require cosmetic surgery to fix sagging skin.
Most patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery may experience bouts of diarrhea known as “dumping syndrome” at some point post-surgery.
A recent study indicates that obstructive sleep apnea often persists after this surgery,
One study published in JAMA reports the increased admission of alcohol 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, lifestyle changes, and regular workouts to ensure post-surgery weight loss success. They may require the help of a personal dietitian to monitor their daily diet.
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 person’s social and family relationships. The patients need to seek guidance from professional counselors to cope with the emotional stress and deviation in a personal relationship in the post-surgery period.
Cost of Bariatric 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 is as follows:
- Roux-en-Y gastric bypass: $24,000
- Gastric banding: $15,000
- Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy: $19,000
- Duodenal Switch: $27,000
The risks of weight reduction surgeries are low compared to doing nothing. Staying obese can be fatal, as it will lead to diseases like diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular issues.
Recent improvements in technology and medicine have made weight loss surgeries cheaper, more effective, and less likely to cause health problems afterward.
Most people who have tried this way to lose weight have been very happy with the results and would choose to have bariatric surgery again if needed.
Endoscopy is the best nonsurgical weight loss procedure if you wish to avoid surgery.
If you are considering weight loss surgery, you must 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, the bad, and even the downright embarrassing.
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