Bariatric surgery has become extremely popular for patients who are obese with a body mass index of 35 or higher. Many people have been able to reduce their excess weight by 50-75% in the long term, drastically changing their lives forever. Many health issues related to being overweight are resolved after patients begin to lose their excess weight. High blood pressure, sleep apnea and diabetes are just a few examples. Weight loss surgery isn’t for everyone but if you are concerned for your health you owe it to yourself to at least speak with a surgeon to find out if you are a good candidate for one of the several bariatric surgery procedures available.
LAP-BAND – Probably the most well-known bariatric surgery is the LAP-BAND procedure. It is a form of adjustable gastric banding with the idea that constricting your stomach will allow less food to enter and food will enter slower than normal. During the process, the band is tightened around your upper stomach, creating a smaller section of the stomach that allows less and less food pass through, making you feel full more quickly. Usually the procedure is completed through a laparoscopic surgery which means that there is only a very small incision and limited scarring and recovery time. The LAP-BAND surgery does not permanently change any of your anatomy and therefore has less risk involved than other bariatric surgeries that are permanent and irreversible. The weight loss is slow, progressive, and can be adjusted easily by tightening or loosening the device strapped around your stomach.
Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery – One of the newest types of bariatric surgery available by top surgeons is the gastric sleeve surgery also known as the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. Although it is an irreversible procedure, it is thought to be one of the safest and most successful options available. The stomach is reduced to about 15% of its original size and shaped like a banana stapled (or sutured) to the esophagus at the top and small intestine at the bottom. The procedure prevents “dumping syndrome” by keeping the pylorus intact but is still effective at weight loss because it removes the portion of the stomach that stimulates hunger.
Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass – This was previously the most popular of all types of bariatric surgery. While more progressive procedures have been developed, this is still the best choice for some patients. During the surgery, the surgeon will use a staple device to create a small pouch completely separate from the rest of the stomach, and then attach the upper portion of the small intestine to the pouch, creating a y-shape of the small intestine. The small pouch acts similarly to all other gastric bypass surgeries in that it restricts both the amount of food that can be consumed and how fast it can be processed. While this surgery is the most common, it isn’t without risks. “Dumping syndrome” is a common side effect that usually includes nausea, sweating, diarrhea, and weakness. Side effects are expected of any invasive procedure, and should improve with proper post-surgery care. The best way to ensure a successful surgery is by staying committed to a strict diet and weight loss plan after the surgery and following up consistently with your doctor.
Risks and Adverse Effects of Weight Loss Surgery
- Anytime you have a surgery, you must understand that there is at least a slight possibility you will experience side effects or something will not go as planned. There is never a 100% guarantee, but your doctor will be able to educate you about what is involved in the process and what to expect.
Again, it’s important to consider which procedure has the least side effects, yet will be the most effective for your particular case. Don’t be afraid to ask tons of questions and carefully consider the options. Where there is risk, there is also reward, and a weight loss surgery could save your life.