Weight Loss Surgery

Surgical weight loss options

The aim of weight loss surgery is to modify the gastrointestinal tract to reduce the amount of food that a person can eat. Known as bariatric surgery, it is a technique reserved for obese people who struggle with weight loss and continue to maintain a dangerous body weight. Bariatric treatment has a very good success rate in terms of helping patients achieve and maintain significant weight loss.

This type of obesity stomach surgery is entirely different from liposuction. Bariatric surgeons do not remove excess fat from the body; rather, it is more of a preventative technique that encourages the body to burn off stored fat naturally.

The Cost of Bariatric Surgery

Procedures are usually performed at bariatric treatment centers and costs are high. Between the surgeons' fees, facility fees, anesthesia fees and the miscellaneous expenses you'll incur as an inpatient, expect the price tag to be at least $25,000.

Patient Evaluation

Your bariatric surgeon will examine your medical history in detail to determine your candidacy. Generally speaking, you will be considered a good candidate if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, or if you've remained at least 100 pounds heavier than your ideal weight for a significant period of time.

Obesity stomach surgery is a major procedure. Your doctor is likely to recommend it only as a last resort when other treatments have failed.

Weight Loss Surgical Procedures

Broadly speaking, there are three major approaches to surgical weight loss, which are categorized by the strategies they use:

  • Malabsorptive procedures. This approach seeks to modify the body's digestion and absorption of compounds and nutrients that propagate obesity. Because it often results in gallstones, the gallbladder might also be removed as part of the procedure.
  • Restrictive procedures. Restrictive weight loss surgery compartmentalizes the stomach to limit its capacity to a fraction of its current size. Patients feel full after each far less food, which greatly reduces caloric intake and leads to significant, sustainable weight loss. Vertical band surgery, also known as stomach stapling, is a common restrictive bariatric treatment.
  • Mixed procedures. Techniques that employ both restrictive and malabsorptive strategies are used with the most frequency. Gastric or bariatric bypass surgery, which is the most common mixed technique, creates a small stomach pouch which is attached to the intestine. This technique is widely regarded as the safest and most reliable approach to surgical weight loss.

The Risks of Bariatric Treatment

While serious and fatal side effects are very rare, most patients experience significant complications after surgery. Statistics show that patients have a 40 percent chance of experiencing side effects in the six-month period following surgery. More than 20 percent of patients start to experience side effects before they even leave the bariatric weight loss center.

Side effects include diarrhea and bloating after meals, surgical leaks, hernias, infections and pneumonia. Infections and pneumonia are seen in approximately 6 percent and 4 percent of patients respectively; bariatric surgeries have a mortality rate of 0.2 percent.

Recovering from Weight Loss Surgery

After surgery, you'll be restricted to a liquid-only diet, which will include fruit juice, broth and gelatin desserts. This gives your gastrointestinal tract time to recover from the trauma of surgery.

About one to two weeks after surgery, you'll switch to a diet of blended or pureed foods. Dietary restrictions are implemented in almost all cases, and your surgeon will tell you what you need to avoid. Generally, most patients are instructed to follow a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. You'll have to take a multivitamin pill every day for the rest of your life; overeating will result in nausea and/or vomiting.