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Is Weight Loss Surgery Right For You? Maybe…Maybe Not…

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If your BMI indicates that you’re obese and you’ve been toying with the idea of weight loss surgery, here’s all the information you’ll need to know on whether it’s the right option for you. For starters, weight loss surgery is still a surgery – replete with all the risks and pain that come along with putting a blade to your stomach. Sure, it’s being done worldwide with fantastic success rates, but that doesn’t mean you should jump at the idea if you haven’t given diets and exercise a shot.

Many people assume that once they get the weight loss surgery done, they wouldn’t have to eat balanced diets or go on walks. This is not true. This is why weight loss surgery is only advisable for people who are at least a 100 pounds more than their ideal weight and whose BMI is 40+. In these cases, weight loss surgery helps the patient shed 70%-80% of their excess weight in the 8-12 months following surgery.

However, it is by no means the one-stop solution for weight loss. If the patient doesn’t cooperate with the demands of his or her medical condition and work toward self-maintenance in a disciplined manner, all the surgery in the world may not help him or her. Weight loss surgeries often come with very strict regulations on the foods you can eat safely.

If you and your doctor have agreed that you have valid reasons for opting for weight loss surgery, you may choose one of many procedures available. They usually don’t differ drastically from each other, but one form of weight loss surgery, that’s the gastric bypass surgery, is by far the most popular option. Many patients arrive at the notion that a gastric bypass is right for them based on doctor-patient comfort. With that said, here is a list of weight loss surgery options available:

Gastric Bypass:  A small pouch is fashioned in the stomach, which restricts the intake of food. During the surgery, a part of the intestine is bypassed as well, and the remainder is connected to the pouch. This restricts the absorption of food.

Gastric Sleeve: In this method, the stomach is stapled so that it becomes a long, thin tube that can only take in 20%-30% of its usual food intake.

Banding: An inflatable silicon band is attached to the upper part of the stomach and is filled with silicon solution to control and restrict the intake of food. The two bands available commercially are The Lap Band and The Realize Band.

Duodenal Switch or Biliopancreatic Diversion: In this form of weight loss surgery, the intestines are rerouted so that there is only a very small path for the absorption of nutrients – usually leading to only 20% absorption of the calories consumed.

There are arguments both for and against every procedure, and it’s up to the patients to discuss each procedure in its entirety with their surgeons and consider second and third opinions as well. Finally, it all boils down to what the individual is comfortable with, the condition of your health and how important it is to lose weight quickly.1 The gastric bypass surgery is by far the most popular weight loss surgery since it has the longest standing history, with a low mortality rate. It also promises great results if done in a reputed health centre by an equally reputed surgeon.

Weight Loss Surgeries are Right for Some People

As much as 80 percent of all bariatric surgeries in the US are gastric bypass and the surgery significantly reduces the risk of early death from health problems like heart disease and cancer.2  More than half of the weight loss surgeries performed in the US annually are estimated to be gastric bypasses done the laparoscopic way. Many diabetic patients give up medication within weeks or months of the surgery, and most experience a massive weight loss of about 80% of excess weight in the year following surgery. On the flipside, the risks are intestinal blockage, dumping syndrome and non absorption of vitamins and nutrients.

Gastric banding is the second most sought out procedure due to its significantly lower risks of complications. However, the outcome is also significantly slower – patients usually lose about 50% of excess body weight over 2 or 3 years as compared to the 80% in 8 months to one year observed in a gastric bypass. Also, many doctors believe that while banding has lower risk rates initially, it becomes gradually risky in the long run. The band, in many cases, moves from its original position, causing obstruction and requiring further surgery.

The gastric sleeve is also a fairly popular method in Europe– however, the staples get pressured over time due to eating, and there is always the risk of the stomach contents spilling over into the abdomen, which can put the patient at severe risk of infection.

Non-Surgical Methods Always Considered First

As mentioned earlier, the bottom line is that surgery of any kind puts the patient at significant risk and should be avoided if there is even a remote chance of achieving weight loss by non-surgical methods. The problem is that people want instant solutions and are not used to taking the long route. Surgery, of course, is not without its dangers, even though it can give you speedy weight loss or a flat tummy in no time. These things may give you results immediately, but you will gain back your weight as time passes.

Proven techniques like diets and exercise, however, don’t put you at serious risk and come with no pain whatsoever.  A weight loss surgery isn’t like that – there is the matter of going under the blade, putting yourself at risk both during and after surgery, experiencing post-surgical pain, and having to cope with prolonged recovery, not to mention having to undergo correctional surgery should anything go wrong in the future.

Therefore, no matter what anyone may tell you about undergoing surgery for weight loss, it’s important that you understand the risks from a medical perspective and do everything you can to achieve weight loss via non-surgical methods such as a disciplined exercise and diet regimen. There are cases of obesity and morbid obesity where weight loss surgery is necessary and the most sensible option. However, if your doctor has told you that you even have a remote chance of doing this non-surgically, then choose the non-surgical means.  You’ll be glad you did!

References

1 Weight Loss Surgery. (2011)  Retrieved from National Institutes of Health Medline Plus at: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/weightlosssurgery.html

2 Adams, Ted D., Richard E. Gress, Sherman C. Smith, et. al. Long-Term Mortality after Gastric Bypass Surgery. (23 August 2007)New England Journal of Medicine. 357: 753-761.

3 Picot Jones J, JL Colquitt, E Gospodarevskaya  and Baxter E. Loveman et. al. The clicinal effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of bariatric (weight loss) surgery for obesity: A systematic review and economic evaluation. (2009) Health Technology Assess. 13: 1-190+

DISCLAIMER

The content provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Our content is not medical advice and you should seek a licensed physician or health professional regarding all health issues. WEIGHTLOSS.US takes no responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, or application of medication which results from reading this site.