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Weight Loss Surgery – Types, Safety, Benefits, And Side Effects

by
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
Weight Loss Surgery – Types, Safety, Benefits, And Side Effects February 15, 2018

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.

Highlights Of The Article

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

What Is Weight Loss Surgery And How Does It Work?

Weight Loss Surgery - What Is Weight Loss Surgery And How Does It Work

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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.

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Does Weight Loss Surgery Work?

Weight Loss Surgery - Does Weight Loss Surgery Work

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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.

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Criteria For Weight Loss Surgery

Weight Loss Surgery - Criteria For Weight Loss Surgery

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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:

  • You have a BMI (Body Mass Index, calculate here) of 35-40 or more.
  • You have a BMI of 35-40 or more and suffer from obesity-related diseases.
  • You have a BMI of 30-35 and suffer from obesity-related diseases.

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.

[ Read: How To Lose Weight Fast At Home ]

Now, let’s take a look at the types of weight loss surgery.

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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.

1. Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass

Weight Loss Surgery - Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass

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Also known as Gastric bypass, it is the “gold standard” of bariatric surgery.

Procedure

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.

Pros
  • Suppresses appetite.
  • Aids long-term weight loss.
  • Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Increases satiety.
Cons
  • Complex procedure.
  • Longer recovery time.
  • May lead to vitamin and mineral deficiency. Patients should take vitamin and mineral supplements as long as they live.
  • Patient should adhere to a good lifestyle
  • Requires follow-ups.

2. Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Weight Loss Surgery - Gastric Sleeve Surgery

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Also known as sleeve gastrectomy or laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. Here’s how it is done.

Procedure

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.

Pros
  • Leads to weight loss.
  • Helps sustain the weight loss.
  • Reduces the risk of obesity-related diseases like type 2 diabetes.
Cons
  • The major part of the stomach is permanently removed, so it is not reversible.
  • Gut bacteria and hormones get affected, which, in turn, affects metabolism.

3. Adjustable Gastric Band Surgery

Weight Loss Surgery - Adjustable Gastric Band Surgery

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Also known as laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery. Here’s how it is done.

Procedure

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.

Pros
  • Induces weight loss.
  • Reduces the amount of food the stomach can hold.
  • Involves no knife procedure.
  • Short hospital stay.
  • Reversible surgery.
  • Lowest rate of post-operative complications.
  • Lowest risk of vitamin and mineral deficiency.
Cons
  • Lower success rate.
  • Slower weight loss.
  • The band might slip.
  • A foreign object will remain inside your body.
  • Can result in dilation of the esophagus.
  • The band can have mechanical problems.
  • Requires re-operation.
  • Patient needs to adhere to a strict diet.

4. Duodenal Switch Surgery

Weight Loss Surgery - Duodenal Switch Surgery

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Also known as biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (BPD/DS), it is the most complex weight loss surgery. Here’s how it is done.

Procedure

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.

Pros
  • Aids greater weight loss.
  • Reduces calorie absorption by 70%.
  • Increases satiety.
  • Best surgery for treating type 2 diabetes.
Cons
  • Requires longer hospital stay.
  • Causes vitamin and mineral deficiency.
  • Complex procedure and can be risky.
  • You have to stick to a strict diet.
  • Requires follow-up compliance.

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.

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How Much Weight Will You Lose?

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.

[ Read: How To Tighten Skin After Weight Loss ]

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What To Expect Before Weight Loss Surgery

Weight Loss Surgery - What To Expect Before Weight Loss Surgery

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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:

  • Your doctor will do a thorough physical exam, check your blood report, and go through your medical history.
  • If you smoke, you will have to stop doing so six weeks before the surgery.
  • The dietitian will tell you what and how much to eat and what kind of lifestyle you should follow post surgery.
  • The psychiatrist will do an assessment to know if bariatric surgery will help you.
  • Bariatric or weight loss surgery will help you lose the weight over a period of 12-15 months. You will not lose the weight overnight.
  • Most weight loss surgeries are safe, and the results are good. But you might regain the weight if you don’t lead a good lifestyle.
  • You might have to go to follow-up appointments post surgery.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are phobic to needles, a foreign object inside your body, or anything that you are concerned about.

Now, let me answer the most important question – is weight loss surgery safe? Here’s your answer.

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Is Weight Loss Surgery Safe?

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.

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Weight Loss Surgery Cost

Weight Loss Surgery - Cost

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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.

[ Read: Best Weight Loss Clinics In India ]

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Weight Loss Surgery Benefits

There are many benefits of weight loss surgery. Here’s what you should know.

  • Bariatric surgery aids long-term weight loss.
  • It prevents excess weight regain.
  • Reduces the risk of obesity-related diseases.
  • Increases longevity.
  • Improves the quality of life.
  • Improves mental health.

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Weight Loss Surgery Side Effects

Here are a few side effects of bariatric surgery.

  • It can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiency.
  • You might need to be on vitamin and mineral supplements all your life.
  • You might feel nauseous.
  • Leads to low blood sugar.
  • Might cause inflammation, ulcer, and hernia.
  • You need to follow up with the doctor.
  • Need to be on a strict and specific weight loss surgery diet.
  • Might need reoperation.

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.

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Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

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.

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Charushila is an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition and a full-time contributor to Diet & Weight Loss at Stylecraze. She believes that food has healing powers and eating good food is the best way to lose weight. A binge eater-turned-fitness enthusiast, Charushila likes to share her knowledge and experience with the world. When she is not working, she loves to cook healthy food, watch movies, travel, workout, and read Bengali literature.
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