Weight loss surgery is the last step recommended by doctors for people who are struggling to control their weight. Weight loss surgery is only done on people with a BMI higher than 45 and those who are above BMI 35 and are suffering from obesity-related co-morbidities like heart disease.
But weight loss surgery is not a simple solution to all weight-related problems. Even after the surgery patients need to stick to a strict diet and exercise regimen recommended by the doctor and go for regular check-ups.
Different Kinds Of Weight Loss Surgeries
Weight loss surgery is a drastic measure only for those people who have exhausted all other options. This kind of surgery also involves a lot of risks of complications, so people should get the surgery only on a doctor’s recommendation from a licensed surgical practitioner.
The different types of weight loss surgery and their mechanisms:
- Gastric Bypass– gastric bypass was one of the first methods of weight loss surgery that was started almost 20 years back. In this surgery the surgeon cuts open the patient’s stomach and reduces it to the size of a walnut. This small pouch like stomach is then attached to the small intestine. This means that the food avoids the process of going through the stomach and instead directly enters the small intestine. Gastric bypass combines two different techniques of weight loss surgery- it reduces the portion size the patient can consume at every meal and also limits food absorption through the stomach (malabsorption).
- Risks of Gastric Bypass– a major risk factor with gastric bypass is the fact that the reduced adsorption can often lead to deficiency of important nutrients in the body. Anemia and calcium deficiency are common in patients after a gastric bypass surgery and they usually need to take lots of food supplements throughout their lives to combat the issue.
Another issue with gastric bypass is a phenomenon called dumping. This is when food is dumped into the small intestine too quickly and it can cause symptoms like nausea, bloating, diarrhea and pain.
Gastric bypass is a major surgery so there is always a risk of infection and blood clots. Gastric bypass also increases the risk of the patient developing gallstones and hernias later in life. Gastric bypass surgery is usually not reversible, but in some cases where patients develop major complications, the procedure can be surgically reversed.
- Gastric Banding– gastric banding had been introduced in the USA just 10 years back. In this surgery the surgeon puts an elastic band around the patient’s stomach. But this band, which is placed around the upper part of the stomach, is adjustable. Depending on the patient’s BMI requirements the doctor can adjust the lap-band around the stomach. This will allow the doctor to control the portion size each patient will be able to consume.
- Risks of gastric banding– post gastric banding patients often complain of frequent vomiting after eating too much too quickly.
Another major issue with gastric banding is that the weight loss caused by this surgery is a lot less dramatic than caused by gastric bypass.
In some cases, the lap-band used in the surgery can get loose or fall down too much and this can increase chances of infection and require a repeat procedure. Lap-band surgery is reversible and adjustable, but a reversal of the procedure also comes with its own set of complications.
- Sleeve Gastrectomy– this is a comparatively new introduction into the medical field. In this surgery the surgeon removes almost 85% of a person’s stomach and then staples the rest. This restricts the amount of food a person can consume and thus drives weight loss. But there is no change in how the body absorbs nutrients, so nutritional deficiencies are not noticed in sleeve gastrectomy patients.
- Risks of sleeve gastrectomy– this procedure is completely irreversible. Moreover, some patients run the risk of the sleeve leaking out leading to infection.
There are a few other procedures as well which are recommended for weight loss, but these are not very common. Patients should also remember that these weight loss procedures are major surgeries with a long period of post-operative care and risk of complications. It is always better to control diet and exercise and consult a nutritionist when the weight gain is first noticed rather than waiting till surgery becomes the only option.