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Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery or weight loss surgery describes a number of procedures that are performed on the stomach or intestines in order to produce fast weight loss. Weight-loss surgeries alter your digestive system to help you lose weight by restricting how much you can eat, and/or by reducing the absorption of nutrients. After surgery, patients tend to feel full faster, reducing instances of overeating and encouraging portion control. Reducing what you eat via surgery can keep weight off in the long-term if you are committed. Quick weight loss due to bariatric surgery in this case isn’t for mere aesthetic benefit only, excessive weight gain places strain on the body’s joints and organs which can lead to a number of debilitating health conditions and even early death. Bariatric surgery can quickly decrease risks for common weight related conditions such as:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Diabetes
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Acid reflux
  • Circulation issues
  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic infections
  • Inflammatory diseases[1]

Who is a candidate for weight loss surgery?

Many surgeons will require that the patient shows some degree of commitment to losing weight, particularly if their weight poses a risk when it comes to the safety of an intrusive surgical procedure. Weight loss surgery is performed in patients where diet and exercise either hasn’t worked or is made difficult by an individual’s weight or health status. Bariatric surgery is geared toward patients whose body mass indexes range in the obesity category rather than those who are just a bit overweight and can use diet and exercise interventions instead. You may be a candidate for bariatric surgery if:

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is 40+ (extreme obesity).
  • Your BMI ranges from 35-39.9 (obesity), and you have one or more weight-related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or severe sleep apnea.
  • Some people may qualify for certain types of weight-loss surgery with a bit lower BMI 30-34 and weight-related health conditions are present.

Candidates are also likely to be enrolled in a post-surgery follow-up program with their physician who can track weight loss progress, ensuring you are getting proper nutrition, and helping you make long-term changes to your behavior, as well as monitoring for post-surgery risks.

 

What types of weight loss surgery are available?

There are many types of weight-loss surgery, known collectively as bariatric surgery. Gastric bypass is one of the most common types in the United States, due to gastric bypass surgery being one of the safest procedures fewer complications than do other weight-loss surgeries. Other surgical weight loss procedures include:

  • Sleeve Gastrectomy
  • Gastric Banding (LapBand)
  • Orbera Gastric Balloon[2]

 

Is weight loss surgery risky?

Still, all forms of weight-loss surgery, including gastric bypass, are major procedures that can pose serious risks and side effects. As with any major surgery, gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries pose potential health risks, both in the short term and long term. Some short-term risks and complications associated with weight loss surgery include:

  • Hemorrhaging/Internal bleeding
  • Internal organ puncture
  • Bowel perforation
  • Bacterial infections/Wound infections
  • Gastrointestinal leakage
  • Adverse reactions to anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Respiratory distress
  • Rare instances of mortality

 

Possible long-term risks and complications:

  • Dumping syndrome (a cause of gastrointestinal distress)
  • Gallstone formation
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Hernias
  • Ulcers
  • Malnutrition (low absorption of nutrients)
  • Gallstones
  • Hernias
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Stomach perforation[3]

Successful bariatric surgeries can only work as well as the patient will allow. Making permanent healthy changes to your diet and get regular exercise will improve the chances of long-term progress. If you have undergone surgical weight loss, it will be imperative to attend all follow-up appointments to ensure the health of the surgical site, as they will also check to ensure that all proper banding is in place. Complications can develop, even if weight is being lost so be sure to see your doctor is you notice a fever, chills, vomiting, pain, or any abnormal symptoms.

 

References

[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/bariatric-surgery/about/pac-20394258
[2] https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/bariatric-surgery/types
[3] https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/bariatric-surgery/about/pac-20394258

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