Weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery is a doctor-approved surgical procedure to remove excess fat (1). It is recommended only if you have a BMI ranging from 35-40 or above and suffer from obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, etc. Studies have shown that bariatric surgery reduces obesity-related complications and prevents weight regain after the surgery. That sounds promising and effective, doesn’t it? Read on to find out all about weight loss surgery, if you should go for it, its safety, success rate, and much more.
What Is Weight Loss Surgery And How Does It Work?
Does Weight Loss Surgery Work?
Criteria For Weight Loss Surgery
Types Of Weight Loss Surgery
How Much Weight Will You Lose?
What To Expect Before Weight Loss Surgery
Is Weight Loss Surgery Safe?
Weight Loss Surgery Cost
Weight Loss Surgery Benefits
Weight Loss Surgery Side Effects
Weight loss (bariatric) surgery is a surgical procedure performed on the digestive system by highly skilled medical professionals to help extremely obese patients lose weight. Unlike liposuction, where a chunk of fat tissue is removed from the body, weight loss surgery focuses on limiting the amount of food you consume and absorb.
This is done in two ways. First, by restricting the stomach area so that it cannot hold too much food, thereby preventing overeating or making you feel full sooner. And second, by shortening your small intestine, where the nutrients get absorbed, thereby preventing absorption of broken down food molecules that get converted into fat when not used as an energy source.
Bariatric surgery is minimally invasive and is done using a laparoscope. It is the most preferred method as it causes less pain and speeds up the healing process (2). However, a few open bariatric surgeries are also done depending on the condition of the patient and after taking their consent. But does this work? Find out in the next section.
Yes, weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery works for morbidly obese patients. Since it prevents you from overeating and reduces the absorption of nutrients, you will lose weight gradually. It will seem like you are losing weight naturally.
But you also have to be careful after you have undergone weight loss surgery. Proper diet and lifestyle should be followed to prevent regaining the weight. Moreover, patients suffering from depression or binge eating disorders need to be careful as they are prone to gaining the weight back (3).
So, yes, bariatric surgery helps you lose weight, but it also comes down to how determined you are to change your lifestyle, adhere to a new and better routine, and avoid gaining the weight back. But instead of predicting the future now, let’s focus on the present – do you really need a bariatric surgery? Find out next.
Weight loss surgery is not for everyone. Sometimes, you might feel you are overweight, whereas, in reality, you are not. Or you need to lose a little weight, which can be accomplished by choosing a better lifestyle. So, how do you know if weight loss surgery is the only option left for you? Well, experts have designed a checklist to screen patients suitable for bariatric surgery. Here are the criteria to qualify for weight loss surgery:
Apart from these, the questionnaire provided by the hospital will also determine whether you are the correct candidate for bariatric surgery or not. The doctors take the decision based on a number of factors so that the surgery is successful and helps you in the long run.
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Now, let’s take a look at the types of weight loss surgery.
Bariatric surgery is of four types. Your doctor will determine which type of surgery will be best for you, and each has its own pros and cons. Take a look.
Also known as Gastric bypass, it is the “gold standard” of bariatric surgery.
First, the surgeon staples the upper part of the stomach and creates a small pouch. Next, he/she cuts the small intestine and attaches the lower part of the small intestine to the newly created small stomach pouch. Now, the upper part of the small intestine is then attached to the lower part. The stomach becomes smaller, and hence, you cannot eat a lot and will feel full soon.
Attaching the lower part of the small intestine to the small pouch limits the absorption of calories. And attaching the upper part of the small intestine to the lower part aids proper digestion by supplying the digestive juices produced by the glands in the stomach lining.
Also known as sleeve gastrectomy or laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. Here’s how it is done.
The surgeon removes 80% of the stomach. The remaining stomach, which now looks like a banana, is too small to hold too much food. Therefore, you eat less and lose weight.
Also known as laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery. Here’s how it is done.
The surgeon places a ring with an inner inflatable band at the top part of your stomach, thereby creating a small pouch. It is similar to tying a knot with a band. The remaining part of the stomach remains below the band. Now, the inflatable band is filled with salt water by the surgeon to adjust the opening of the stomach pouch. So, when the stomach is small, you will eat less and prevent weight gain.
Also known as biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (BPD/DS), it is the most complex weight loss surgery. Here’s how it is done.
First, a gastric sleeve surgery is carried out. Next, the duodenum and the last portion of the small intestine are divided, and both of these are joined together. About three-fourth of the small intestine is bypassed. The upper part of the small intestine that carries pancreatic enzymes and bile (important for digestion and absorption of fats and protein) is reconnected to the last portion. The small stomach pouch cannot hold too much food, so you will eat less. And since the pancreatic enzymes and bile get mixed at the end of the small intestine, fewer calories get absorbed.
These were the four weight loss surgery procedures that can help you lose the fat and lead a disease-free life. But the main question is, how much weight will you lose? Here’s what we found.
Bariatric or weight loss surgery is highly effective. The weight loss can range between 12-39% of the original body weight or 40-71% excess weight loss (4). This is a huge number, and it has changed the lives of many obese patients.
It is clear that bariatric or weight loss surgery is a life-changing experience. But you should know what to expect before going ahead with it. Take a look at the next section.
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Before weight loss surgery, you will meet and discuss with your doctor, psychiatrist, and dietitian. You will also know what you should exactly expect out of this surgery. Here’s what you should know:
Now, let me answer the most important question – is weight loss surgery safe? Here’s your answer.
Bariatric or weight loss surgery is safe. But researchers and doctors are working on making the surgeries better and less risky and the weight loss more sustainable in the long run. You must have a detailed discussion with your doctor to know if weight loss surgery is what you want and if it is going to work for you.
If you do decide to go for it, the next thing that will come to your mind is the cost of the surgery. Here’s what we found.
The cost of weight loss surgery can range from $14,000-$23,000. Talk to your insurance company to know if this cost will be covered or not. You may get better and cheaper options available in other countries but make sure that they have experts and a good postoperative care unit to help you recover. Do not go ahead if you are even 0.1% unsure about it.
Before closing, let me tell you about the benefits and side effects of weight loss surgery so that you can take an informed decision.
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There are many benefits of weight loss surgery. Here’s what you should know.
Here are a few side effects of bariatric surgery.
Weight loss surgery is the best option available if you are obese and/or suffer from life-threatening comorbidities. Talk to your doctor and do your research about the surgery and the hospital that you choose to get your surgery done before you take a step ahead. Remember, this surgery is NOT for people who can reduce their weight by healthy eating and exercising.
What is the success rate of weight loss surgery?
Weight loss averages 65% for most patients, with over 85% of patients losing and maintaining 50% of the initial excess weight loss.
Does weight loss surgery affect pregnancy?
You must talk to your gynecologist. Depending on the type of surgery you had, weight regain, and your current lifestyle and medical reports, your doctor will be able to tell you how your pregnancy is going to be.