Obesity is a complex disease that can lead to serious health conditions such as type two diabetes or high blood pressure. And whilst exercise and a healthy diet can assist those who suffer from obesity to lose weight, sometimes bariatric surgery is required in order to see significant results. But what exactly does bariatric surgery involve and what are the risks? If you’re considering bariatric surgery, here’s a guide to help you choose the right procedure.
What is bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgery is a procedure that helps the patient to lose weight by making changes to their digestive system. There are, however, several different types of bariatric surgery.
A laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy is a keyhole procedure which involves restricting the stomach’s volume to around 20% of its original size. Some studies have shown that patients lose on average about 20-35% of their starting weight after this surgery.
A laparoscopic gastric bypass makes food bypass the stomach almost completely before heading into the small bowel for digestion. It is sometimes more powerful than the sleeve gastrectomy, with patients often losing 25 – 50% of their total weight in 12 – 18 months. It does have a higher side effect profile than the sleeve so it is often used in heavier people, or those with recurrent weight problems, bad diabetes or bad reflux.
Meanwhile, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding places an adjustable band around the top part of the stomach to help control eating habits. By limiting the speed in which food travels into the stomach, it can help reduce hunger and suppress appetite.
What are the risks to consider?
Like any surgical procedure, bariatric surgery of any kind comes with risks. One drawback is being left with folds of skin which could require additional surgery to remove. Another issue is that you may not be able to eat certain foods or get enough nutrients from your new diet. You, therefore, may need to take supplements for the rest of your life. Other risks include gallstones, blood clots and the possibility that your gastric band could break or slip.
These are not necessarily an issue for everyone, but before choosing your procedure, make sure you have a detailed consultation with your surgical team to discuss all potential risks.
Does bariatric surgery fix obesity forever?
Bariatric surgery is a fantastic way of helping people to lose weight but it is not a magic solution. In order to maintain a healthy weight, you need to commit to making permanent lifestyle changes. This includes eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and attending frequent check-ups after your surgery. Surgery can help get the ball rolling, but you need to put the effort in if you want to stay healthy.
Weight loss operations are on average ten times more likely to help patients lose weight than dieting but it’s important to understand that it’s not a magic solution and not all patients suit all operations. Luckily, there are a number of different types of bariatric surgery options available today, so make sure you talk through each option in detail with your doctor before making a final decision.