In today’s day and age, where people continue to opt for fast food, quick meal fixes, and pre-prepared packaged foods, obesity has become a global pandemic affecting children, adolescents, and adults alike. Surveys from National Health and Examination and studies from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention corroborate that almost 33% of adults in the United States fall under morbidly obese.
While traditional means of losing weight might be beneficial for some, opting for bariatric surgery for weight loss can be lifesaving for those who have a long journey ahead and need a little more than just diet and exercise.
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Weight loss surgeries – An Introduction
Opting for a weight loss surgery is a big decision. Apart from the costs of pre and post-op care, one of the key decisions that one has to make is understand and choose the safest form of weight loss surgery. Today, some of the most popular surgeries include:
- Restrictive surgeries: Many people opting for a bariatric weight loss surgery consider restrictive surgeries—these work by shrinking the stomach size. Thus slowing down the digestion process and helping you lose weight in the process.
- Mal-absorptive surgeries: Otherwise known as intestinal bypasses, remove part of your digestive tract and give you a smaller stomach to feel less hungry and absorb fewer calories.
- V-Bloc or vagal blockade: They are the latest form of weight loss surgery and involve implanting a pacemaker-like device in your body right underneath the rib cage. The device sends signals to your nervous system at regular intervals indicating to the brain that your stomach is full, thus discouraging you from overeating.
Bariatric Surgery – the safest form of weight loss surgery
Bariatric Surgery is a collective term used for weight loss surgeries targeting your digestive system to lose weight. This FDA-approved surgical option is one of the safest surgical means of losing weight and is mainly opted for by individuals for whom dieting and exercise have remained ineffective.
Bariatric surgery typically reduces one’s ability to absorb nutrients, thus aiding one in weight loss. This is done by restricting the amount of food one’s stomach can hold. As with any surgery, opting for a bariatric weight loss surgery also has several risks and complications that one must carefully consider before choosing it. Some of these include:
- Excessive bleeding or blood clots
- Ulcers and acid reflux
- Bowel obstruction
- Hernias and Gall stones (in the long run)
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia
- Dumping syndrome
- Leaks in the gastrointestinal system and even
- The need for a second surgery
What are the 3 types of bariatric weight loss surgery?
Opting for a bariatric weight loss surgery begins with understanding its types and choosing one that best meets your individual needs. While there are several different types of bariatric surgeries, some of the most widely recognized ones include:
A gastric bypass is ideal for individuals who fall under the category of “extreme obesity “or whose body mass index (BMI) is 40 or above. It typically involves creating a small pouch in the upper part of the stomach, thus dividing it from the rest of your stomach. Next, the small intestine is divided, and the bottom end is connected to the small pouch in the stomach. Finally, the part of the small intestine that helps digest food and produce changes in gut hormones is connected to the bottom part.
As a result, the gastric bypass procedure shrinks the size of your stomach, thus restricting the amount of food you eat and how much your stomach can hold, thus curbing calories and aiding weight loss. With a success rate of more than 85 % of the patients losing at least 50% of their body weight and keeping it off, gastric bypass has remained one of the most frequently opted-for weight loss surgery.
This is yet another popular type of bariatric surgery. The sleeve surgery involves the removal of 80% of the stomach and leaving the rest behind in the shape of a tube or a pouch. Doing so automatically shrinks the stomach size, leaving behind only a quarter of the original stomach. As a result, the new pouch-sized stomach cannot hold much food. Moreover, shrinking the stomach size also reduces the production of the hormone ghrelin, which regulates one’s appetite and curbs food cravings.
Adjustable gastric band
This involves creating a small pouch in your stomach by placing an inflatable band around the upper portion of your stomach. Doing so helps control portion size and allows less food to be stored in your stomach. However, with time the band starts to shrink and thus requires readjustments periodically.
How does one prepare for bariatric surgery?
Once you fulfill all the criteria for bariatric surgery, your surgeon or physician gives you a set of instructions to follow before the surgery. This includes:
- Complete lab work, including blood tests, x-rays, heart screen, and sometimes even an endoscopy
- Starting on a doctor’s prescribed physical activity program
- Keeping up with the eating and drinking restrictions
- Medical restrictions (as prescribed by your doctor)
- Steering clear from the use of tobacco or any drugs
Additionally, your doctor may help you plan and prepare you mentally for what you can expect during your recovery period and the changes you might have to implement post-surgery.
What to expect after the surgery?
Part of opting for a bariatric weight loss surgery is knowing what to expect after the surgery. After the surgery, you will likely have to stay in the hospital for a day or two before the surgeon signs off on the discharge paperwork. You will most likely be restricted from eating anything to give your stomach and digestive system time to heal.
From the third day onwards, if your recovery is as expected, you will be put on a specific diet consisting mainly of liquids and slowly progress to pureed foods and eventually to regular food. However, you must bring about a lifestyle change and restrict the type and quantity of what you eat and drink.
You will also have to visit your doctor frequently to monitor your recovery and gauge the success of the surgery.
Bariatric surgery is an FDA-approved weight loss surgery with an undoubtedly high success rate. However, before opting for bariatric surgery for weight loss, one must understand that a weight loss surgery is just a tool to help you get started with your weight loss journey. For it to be effective, one has to make a lifestyle change and stick to it. So if you think this is the right surgery for you, then it is best to consult your physician before making any decisions.
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