Medical Weight Loss Surgery: When Dieting Isn’t Enough

In the United States, we struggle greatly with obesity, with an estimated 160 million Americans that are either classified as obese or overweight and the problem is quickly growing to epidemic proportions. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that nearly 75% of men, 60% of women, and 30% of the children in this country suffer from this problem and it is only becoming more prevalent.

How do we overcome this epidemic when diets fail, portion sizes grow, and our lifestyles and careers force us to be sedentary? Bariatric or weight loss surgery has shown to be more effective at reducing body weight than conventional, non-surgical methods.

What is Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is defined as a surgical intervention that is designed to limit how much you can eat and/or reduce your absorption of nutrients by making changes to your digestive system. There a number of different types of procedures that can be done, including the gastric band, gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and duodenal switch. The best options for you will be discussed during a consultation with your surgeon.

Gastric Band

Also known as the Lap-Band, the gastric band procedure uses a silicone band to reduce the size of your stomach. During the surgery, the band is set around the top of the stomach so that it is made into a tiny pouch that only holds a small amount of food. Food is still able to pass through the digestive tract normally, so there is no interference with absorption.

The gastric band is adjustable, typically with the insertion of a needle that pumps air into or out of the band, making the pouch larger or smaller based on your unique needs. The band is fully removable as well, so the stomach is able to return to its full size if necessary.

Pros and Cons

There is no surgical revision of the stomach or intestines, so there is less risk of complications and a shorter hospital stay. There is also a lower risk of vitamin deficiencies. You can expect a decrease of 40-50% of excess weight and can adjust the band when necessary.

Because there is only one form of intervention, weight loss is slower and less drastic than other surgical options. The band is a foreign object in the body, so there are risks of slippage, erosion, or mechanical problems. Diet adherence is stricter due to possible complications such as esophagus dilation and there is a high potential of needing other surgeries to revise or remove the band.

Gastric Sleeve

The gastric sleeve procedure or sleeve gastrectomy is a procedure that surgically reduces the size of your stomach by turning it into a small sleeve or tube that is approximately 25% of its original size. By doing this, you will feel fuller faster and your stomach will produce less of the hormone that causes hunger. This procedure does not involve the intestines, so the stomach is able to function normally.

Pros and Cons

The surgery induces quick and significant weight loss, typically greater than 50% of excess weight is shed and kept off for 3-5+ years. The hospital stay is relatively short, and the procedure requires no foreign objects in the body or surgery to the intestines. The gastric sleeve can also alter hormones to dampen hunger feelings and make you feel fuller.

Because you are changing the size of your stomach, the procedure is irreversible, can potentially cause vitamin deficiencies, and has a higher rate of complications than the gastric band.

Gastric Bypass

The Gastric Bypass, also known as the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is a more intensive surgical procedure. A part of the stomach will be closed off, creating a tiny pouch that will be connected to the small intestine. After this procedure, food will be absorbed differently because your digestive organs will not have as much contact with food, leading to significant weight loss post-surgery.

Pros and Cons

Significant weight loss, about 60-80% of excess weight loss can be expected along with a decrease in hunger hormones and increased feelings of fullness. The procedure may also lead to conditions that increase energy expenditure and typical patients keep at least 50% of excess weight off.

Because of the nature of the surgery, there are greater risks for complications and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. You will most likely have to stay in the hospital longer after surgery and will have to maintain a strict diet, vitamin/mineral regime, and follow-up care plans.

Duodenal Switch

During the duodenal switch procedure, the first part of the small intestines is divided past where the stomach empties its contents. The end portion of the small intestine is then brought up and then connected to the stomach, which has also been made smaller. This procedure is done as opposed to the gastric bypass to reduce the amount of acid that is made by the stomach.

Pros and Cons

This procedure allows you to take in more food than other surgeries and allows you to tolerate more types of food. It also may lead to a greater and more rapid long-term weight loss than other procedures.

Risks and complications for the duodenal switch are similar to that of the gastric bypass, along with hospital stay and follow-up care.

After Surgery

Your surgeon and support staff will discuss in great length what your plans are post-surgery. Recovery will take some time, so rest and re

laxation are very important. Most likely, you will have to start with a diet of liquids before you work your way up to solid foods, so monitoring your caloric intake

 and closely following your doctor’s plans for diet and medicine are vital to your success and comfort. Exercise will also have to be gradually introduced into your routine as well, so be sure to follow any and all orders by your surgeon.

Interested in Learning More?

Learn about the ideal candidate for bariatric surgery, benefits, potential risks, and much more on our FAQs page. If you are worried that your insurance will not cover the surgery, a free insurance verification check is also available. Reach out to your local weight loss clinic or hospital that provides bariatric services for a consultation.

My New Beginning is the weight loss center for City Hospital at White Rock. Contact us today to learn how weight loss surgery can transform you into the person you were always meant to be.



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