Obesity is a big problem in modern society and many people look up to surgery for the ultimate solution. If you also count yourself in the same league since you have tried almost every method to lose weight, but your weight is stubbornly constant then going for a surgery should be a right option. But you must keep in mind that surgery will change your life permanently. Always treat surgery as the last lifeline and not a shortcut since you have to change your dietary habit and physical activity forever.
You should consult your doctor, who can assess the main cause for not losing weight and when your doctor recommend you for the weight loss surgery or Bariatric surgery then you should seriously consider it. The surgery results may be more effective when:
- It is operated by an experienced surgeon
- You spend your post surgery days in a health care center which offer you a care program which takes care of your diet, exercise and behavioral changes.
- You are fully aware of the risk and benefits and willing to cooperate with the surgery and follow the post surgery precautions.
Why you have been suggested surgery?
If you are assessed with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above it or if you are having any weight related health problem such as Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Severe Arthritis, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, etc. along with BMI ranges between 35 to 40 then your doctor would more likely suggest you weight loss surgery.
Benefits of surgery
Weight loss surgery as its name suggest will help you in shedding those extra pounds and improves your overall health. It is found that most of the obesity related problems get rectified post surgery and it also increases the life span of the patient.
Risks of surgery
Weight loss surgery promises benefits, but it has risks as well and approx. 10% cases have developed complications post surgery. Some general problems arise which may cause pain and discomfort and thus requires minor surgeries. These common inconveniences are:
- Abdominal Hernia
- Infection in wound
- Digestion related issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, excessive sweating, dizziness
Although life threatening complications are rare, but they have happened in 3% cases. These complications are
- Leakage in new gut connection
- Pulmonary embolism
- Heart attacks
Senior citizens who are having age above 60 are more prone to these kind of risks, but if the surgery has been done under the supervision of an experienced surgeon then chances of having complications are very less. Some general complications may happen post surgery such as
- Vitamin deficiencies since absorption of nutrients by body get reduced after surgery
- Gallstones may occur when you lose pounds of weight in very less time
- Sagging skin, which can be corrected by body contouring surgery.
Types of Surgery
Weight loss surgery involves modifications to your stomach or small intestine and sometimes it includes changes in both organs. According to the modification involved, there are five types of surgeries:
This surgery has made changes to the stomach, which results in a small stomach often called pouch. Because of this small stomach you will feel full after having a small meal so it makes you eat less. The food goes directly to the small intestine from the pouch. The surgery is performed with a laparoscope, which is a small camera and helps in performing the surgery with more precision.
Adjustable Gastric Band
This surgery also involves modification on your stomach, which includes putting a band on the topmost part of your stomach. The small balloon inside the band controls the tightening and loosening of the band. Thus, this band controls the inlet of food to your stomach. This surgery also involves laparoscope.
This surgery has also performed on the stomach and includes the removal of a major part of the stomach and leaves a narrow section of the topmost part of the stomach which is known as gastric sleeve. This surgery helps in reducing the levels of hunger inducing hormone Ghrelin which makes you eat less.
This surgery makes a bypass from gastric sleeve to your small intestine, thus limiting your intake of food. This reduces the absorption of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals in your body and thus sometimes it may cause complications.
An electrical device which functions like a pacemaker has been implanted in your abdomen by surgery. This device sends signals to your brain through vagus nerve when your stomach is full. This device can be controlled from outside the body through a remote control.
How to choose a surgery type?
In general, patients undergone a bypass surgery will lose 70 percent of the extra weight, gastrectomy patients lose approx. 60 percent and gastric band patients will lose around 50 percent. The results depend on the scheduled follow ups attended by the patient and lifestyle changes made after the surgery.
Patients underwent gastric bypass or sleeve surgery, most likely achieve the expected amount of weight loss as mentioned above. If these patients don’t follow the recommended lifestyle, then they may gain weight in due course of time. In case of gastric banding surgery patients can lose 70 – 90 percent of excess weight which is higher than the expected weight loss of 50 percent and in some cases there is no weight loss. No weight loss happens in the case where the patient doesn’t follow up or making changes in the lifestyle.
Patients of Gastric bypass and sleeve generally tend to lose 5 – 7 pounds per week and achieve the expected weight loss amount in a year. Therefore, these surgeries give results in less time while gastric banding patients have a slow and steady weight loss. They tend to lose 1-2 pounds per week and achieve the expected weight loss in two years of time.
Some patients prefer gastric banding over the bypass surgery in a hope that when some cure of obesity will come up, they will get rid of the band and live like before. Although, gastric bypass is also reversible, but it is more challenging than removing a band. A sleeve gastrectomy cannot be reversed like the other two methods. But it should be noted that when banding or bypass is reversed the patient tends to gain weight since the device for controlling hunger and food intake has been removed. The only way is to maintain the lost weight after reversal surgery is to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Many patients fear that more invasive surgery means more danger. Although, this is right that gastric bypass or sleeve surgery are major operations, but when we look at the complication occurrence rate, we found out that both surgeries carry the same probability rate of 10 – 15 percent complication rate but surgeries in recent times are much safer.
There is no book, device or person which can tell you precisely that which surgery will be best for you, but consultation with an experienced medical professional will give you clearer view. So, have faith in your doctor and go for the suggested surgery if it is the last option left for you.