Weight loss is complex, and the factors that contribute to excess weight gain vary from person to person. While bariatric surgery or, weight loss surgery, certainly isn’t the only option, it is one of the fastest, safest, and most effective solutions available.
What is Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric surgery is the collective term used to describe weight loss-inducing procedures that are performed on the stomach or intestines. Essentially, these interventions are used to alter the way your body processes the food you eat, or to decrease the size of the stomach, which allows you to feel “fuller” even when eating less. There are a variety of bariatric procedures available but the two most-commonly performed are laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery and laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.
Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass – procedure which restricts food intake by rerouting it from the stomach to the intestines. This results in less food and excess fat being absorbed by the body.
Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy – procedure which removes a small portion of the stomach, allowing the patient to feel full after eating fewer calories. This procedure also eliminates a portion of the stomach that produces a hormone in the body that makes you feel hungry.
Anyone with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater is eligible for bariatric surgery. Additionally, individuals with a BMI of at least 35 who also have a comorbid condition like diabetes, sleep apnea, or hypertension are also eligible for bariatric procedures.
While these procedures have been performed for upwards of twenty years, and have continuously proven to be just as safe – if not safer – than other more-standardized surgical procedures. Regardless, there is still a great deal of negative stigma associated with weight loss surgery. Many patients falsely believe that opting for bariatric surgery means that they’ve “failed” to lose the weight some other way. Because of this, bariatric surgery is widely underperformed, as only one percent of patients who qualify choose to go through with the procedure.
The reality is that lifestyle modification changes like diet fads and exercise routines are simply much more difficult to sustain, especially for the long term. A rather small portion of the general population finds long-term success with these approaches to weight loss, and many end up regaining the weight after their initial results. Ultimately, bariatric surgery is a highly personal decision. It is important to know what to expect, and to thoroughly discuss all of your options with your bariatric surgeon or primary care provider.
Benefits and Recovery
Despite the multitude of health benefits they offer, bariatric surgeries are still widely underperformed. In fact, only 1 percent of patients who qualify choose to go through with the procedure. On average, patients who do undergo bariatric surgery can expect to lose between 50 to 60 percent of their excess body weight. In addition to inducing weight loss, bariatric surgeries can also alter the body physiologically, resulting in higher natural energy levels and an improved fat metabolism. These added factors make bariatric surgery an effective option not only for initial weight loss, but for long-term sustainable weight management.
Recovering from bariatric surgery is much less strenuous than recovering from other standard operations. Patients are placed on a liquid diet for about ten days after the procedure, then move into a diet of soft foods for an additional week or so. A majority of patients make a full recovery, and are able to resume eating normal foods in about six weeks.
Bariatric surgery is safe and effective, but true patient success comes from having the ongoing support of a dedicated care and condition management team. At South Shore Health, bariatric patients speak with dieticians, nutrition experts and a psychologist before undergoing surgery to ensure that they are properly prepared both physically and emotionally. Patients also have regular post-op check-ins with their psychologist and bariatric surgeon so that their progress can be closely monitored and so any additional concerns can be addressed.