Some people find it very easy to gain weight, but very difficult to lose and there isn’t usually a single answer as to why this happens. Sometimes, the part of our brain that controls our metabolic function does not always work effectively. This can lead to over-eating, poor food choices and ultimately obesity. Certain medical conditions, stress, our environment and changing emotions can also trigger obesity leading to significant weight gain and health complications. Whether the reason is genetic, biological or psychological, weight loss surgery can be a hugely effective treatment option and has recognised long-term health benefits for both physical and mental wellbeing.
What is bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgery is a group of weight loss operations that are specifically designed to help patients that are suffering from obesity. An increasingly common disease, obesity also puts you at a greater risk of serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. It can also decrease your chance of getting pregnant and increase the risk of pregnancy related complications. In severe cases, when other strategies such as diet and exercise have been unsuccessful, weight loss surgery can be a very effective treatment. Bariatric surgery works in a variety of ways depending on the procedure, either by modifying the size of the stomach or making changes to the digestion process. This impacts your appetite for food as well as how your body burns calories, and ultimately it reduces your risk of associated health conditions.
When to consider weight loss surgery
Obesity not only carries the risk of health complications, it can seriously impact your quality of life. Simple activities can be difficult to achieve, often leaving you feeling demotivated and struggling emotionally. If you are considered morbidly obese (with a body mass index (BMI) over 40) or you are suffering from obesity-related diseases such as diabetes or heart disease, your doctor may recommend weight loss surgery as a way to protect your health and enhance your fertility prospects for the future.
Bariatric surgery options
The sleeve gastrectomy (or gastric sleeve surgery) is the most commonly performed weight loss procedure in the world. Using advanced surgical techniques, this operation physically reduces the capacity for food by permanently removing around 80% of the stomach. A small gastric sleeve is left behind which means patients will feel satisfied after eating a much smaller meal. This procedure also improves the bacterial and hormonal balance in the gut. The hormonal changes assist with weight loss as well as relieving conditions associated with being overweight, such as blood pressure or heart disease. Following surgery, food can be eaten and digested as normal with all nutrients and minerals continuing to be absorbed.
- Patients can expect an average excess weight loss of 60-70% within 12 months
- Performed laparoscopically, the procedure is less invasive which means a quicker recovery time
- The anatomy of the digestive system is unaffected
- There is a lower risk of complications
- Gastric leaks where the staple line has not fully healed
- Staple line bleeding
- Stomach inflammation or blockage
- Vitamin deficiencies
Although gastric sleeve surgery is considered relatively safe, there are risks associated with any surgery that can include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Blood clots
Gastric bypass surgery has a well-documented record for effective weight loss and is a commonly performed operation. It works firstly by restricting how much food the stomach can physically contain, and secondly by changing the way the stomach and small intestine absorb food. A small pouch is created from the stomach and connected directly to the small intestine. Swallowed food will then ‘bypass’ most of the stomach and part of the small intestine. As a result, less food is absorbed and less calories are consumed. With only a small stomach pouch left, patients will feel full after only a small amount of food. Additionally, this physical alteration positively impacts the hormonal and bacterial balance in the gut that can help with weight loss. Your doctor will advise you on the best way to replace any lost nutrients.
- Patients can expect an average excess weight loss of 60-80% within 12 months
- Excellent long-term weight control
- Improved health outcomes associated with severe obesity
- Improved quality of life
- Gastric leaks through staple lines
- A blockage (stricture) between the stomach and small intestine
- Hernia or ulcer
- Dumping Syndrome – vomiting, pain and diarrhoea
- Malnutrition from reduced absorption of minerals
Although gastric bypass surgery is considered relatively safe, there are risks associated with any surgery that can include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Blood clots
Which type of weight loss surgery is right for me?
Bariatric surgery can assist in long-term weight loss when other control measures have failed, but not all types of surgery are suitable for all patients. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a helpful tool in determining individual suitability. This information is considered alongside a detailed assessment that will take into account your weight, medical history, health condition and expectations. In general, patients who suffer from obesity with a BMI over 40 will be candidates for surgery. Patients with obesity-related medical problems and a BMI over 35 are also potential candidates. Patients with poorly controlled diabetes with a BMI over 30 may also be considered for surgery in certain circumstances. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of bariatric surgery and together you can decide which procedure will deliver the best long-term outcomes.
What can I expect from bariatric surgery?
Setting out some realistic expectations prior to surgery is crucial to the success of the operation. Bariatric surgery is not simply a quick fix that stops when you leave hospital, it is just the beginning of your weight loss journey. Achieving the best long-term outcomes requires an ongoing lifestyle commitment to regular exercise and balanced nutrition – as well as routine follow up appointments. Adapting to the new you, and emotionally processing your experience is all part of the weight loss recovery. Set yourself up for success by choosing a supportive medical team of doctors and nutritionists that place patient comfort and wellbeing at its core.
Contact us today or request a free quote and start your journey to a healthier lifestyle.
This article contains information of a general nature, which may not be relevant to you. You should not rely on this article as medical advice. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risk. We encourage you to speak with your doctor about your condition.