Obesity can cause a lot of damage to our mental and physical health. When it comes to dealing with obesity, you are usually recommended to focus on adjusting your diet and starting a new exercise routine. Still, both of these require a lot of time, effort, and determination. There is another solution to obesity that may be useful for many people: bariatric surgery. It is an effective weight-loss procedure that has helped many people on their weight loss journey.
In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about bariatric surgery so that you can make a well-informed decision about whether it is the right procedure for you.
What is Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric surgery is an operation that makes changes to your digestive system to help you achieve your healthy weight. Different types of bariatric surgery can make different changes to your digestive system. Some make your stomach smaller to help reduce the amount of food and drink you can consume in one day. Others change your small intestine to change your calorie and nutrient absorption.
Bariatric Surgery Side Effects
Side effects of bariatric surgery may include bleeding, infection, leaking, diarrhea, blood clots and ulcers. Before getting surgery, it is important to understand these symptoms in order to decide if you want to go through with it. However, surgery-related problems rarely lead to death. Some side effects may occur later, like poor nutrient absorption. It’s important to take the vitamins, minerals and pills that you are prescribed post-surgery to facilitate your recovery.
Potential Candidates for Bariatric Surgery
It is always better to try and reduce your weight with changes to diet and exercise, but you know your body better than anyone else, and only you can know for sure if a certain diet or exercise routine is not working. If you are not getting the results you want, it may be time to consider bariatric surgery.
Bariatric surgery is recommended for adults with:
- A body mass index that is 40 or more
- A body mass index of 35 or more with a serious health problem linked to obesity (i.e. type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea)
- A body mass index of 30 or more with a serious health problem linked to obesity (gastric band only)
If you are thinking about having bariatric surgery, research the various options carefully and ask your doctor for advice.
Types of Bariatric Surgery
Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band
In this type of surgery, the surgeon creates a small pouch at the top of your stomach by placing a ring with an inner inflatable band there. The purpose of this procedure is to make you feel full after eating a small amount of food. There is a circular balloon filled with salt solution inside the band, which allows the surgeon to adjust the size of the opening by injecting or removing the solution. After the surgery, you will need to see your doctor several times for size adjustment. Keep in mind that if the band is not helping you, or causing problems, your surgeon may consider removing it.
This type of surgery is advised for people with a BMI of 30 or more with at least one health problem linked to obesity, such as heart disease or diabetes.
Also called vertical sleeve gastrectomy, gastric sleeve is a type of weight-loss surgery in which most of your stomach will be removed by a surgeon. After the surgery, you are left with a banana-shaped section which is closed with staples. The purpose of this surgery is to reduce the amount of food that your stomach can take to make you feel full sooner. It’s important to remember that taking out a part of your stomach can affect other factors, such as your gut hormones, gut bacteria, appetite and metabolism. This surgery cannot be reversed once done as a part of your stomach is permanently removed.
Also known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, gastric bypass surgery has two parts. First, a small pouch will be created in the upper section of your stomach with staples, which makes your stomach much smaller, take less food, and feel full sooner. Next, your small intestine will be cut and attached directly to the small stomach pouch. The purpose of this procedure is to make food bypass most of your stomach and the upper part of your small intestine, so your body will get fewer calories. The bypassed section is connected farther down the lower part of your small intestine and still attached to the main part of your stomach so that digestive juices can function normally. Just like gastric sleeves, the bypass can also change your gut hormones, gut bacteria, appetite and metabolism. And it is hard to reverse.
This surgery is more complex than other types of weight loss surgeries and involves two separate surgeries. The first is similar to gastric sleeve surgery. The second redirects food to bypass most of your small intestine, instead of just a part of it. The bypassed section is reattached to the last part of the small intestine, which allows digestive juices to mix with food.
This type of surgery allows you to lose more weight than the other three. However, it is most likely to cause surgery-related problems, such as a shortage of vitamins, minerals, and protein in your body. This surgery is not regularly performed for such reasons.
Bariatric Surgery Benefits
Bariatric surgery can help you lose weight and improve many health problems related to obesity, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, sleep apnea, urinary incontinence, body pain, knee and hip pain – and more. You will experience better physical activities, improved mood and better quality of life.
People who undergo bariatric surgery can lose as much as 30% of their weight but this depends on the type of surgery they had, their previous level of obesity and other factors. Some regained a portion of the weight they lost, so it’s important to practice healthy habits, learn to be physically active after the surgery if you wish to remain or improve the result.
The bottom line
Bariatric surgery is a serious procedure, so you must consult with your doctor to make a knowledgeable decision. Bariatric surgery doesn’t change your lifestyle. To be able to maintain your weight, you must commit to a lifetime of healthy lifestyle habits.