What Is Weight Loss Surgery?

If you’re dangerously overweight and unable to slim down through diet or exercise, you may want to ask yourself, “What is weight loss surgery?” In this article, we’ll examine the types of weight loss surgery, as well as look at advantages and disadvantages of weight loss surgery.

Defining Weight Loss Surgery

So what is weight loss surgery? Also known as bariatric surgery, it’s a procedure which treats obesity by modifying the gastrointestinal tract. This can be done by reducing absorption, reducing intake or a combination of the two. Weight loss surgery does not include procedures such as liposuction.

While weight loss surgery has been shown to result in massive weight loss, there are risks and side effects which must be considered. If you want to know more about the subject, it’s always best to consult with a physician.

Post Weight Loss Surgery Care

During post weight loss surgery care, a patient will be restricted to a diet of only clear liquids (broth, fruit juice, gelatin, etc.). This allows the gastrointestinal tract to recover from the surgery.

When the tract has sufficiently recovered, the patient will then be allowed to move to a blended sugar-free diet for several weeks (mashed potatoes, cream of wheat, protein drinks, etc.). Finally, the patient will once again be allowed to eat regular foods, but in much smaller portions than before the surgery (otherwise nausea may occur).

Patients may need to take a daily multivitamin to make up for the reduction in nutrients. A diet high in protein and low in carbs is also recommended for weight loss surgery patients.

Advantages Of Weight Loss Surgery

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Besides the obvious advantage of losing weight, surgery patients have experienced improved blood pressure, and their risk of cancer and diabetes have decreased. According to studies, the mortality rate of patients dropped when compared to obese individuals who elected not to have weight loss surgery.

Disadvantages Of Weight Loss Surgery

Complications from the surgery are numerous and include leaking at the site of the surgery, gastric dumping syndrome, infections, incision hernia and pneumonia. However, studies show the risk of complications are reduced when the operation is performed by an experienced surgeon.

Types Of Weight Loss Surgery

There are numerous types of weight loss surgery. The following are most common, and they can be broken into three categories: predominantly malabsorptive procedures, predominantly restrictive procedures and mixed procedures.

  • Predominantly Malabsorptive Procedures – The primary goal of these procedures is to create malabsorption in the patient, which means to reduce the amount of nutrients taken in by the body. The size of the stomach may also be reduced.
    • Duedenal Switch – A smaller stomach is created by surgically removing part of the original stomach. The distal part of the small intestine is then attached to this smaller stomach, bypassing the jejunum and duodenum. The reduces the absorption of nutrients into the patient’s body, thus resulting in weight loss.
  • Predominantly Restrictive Procedures – This type of weight loss surgery is primarily concerned with reducing the size of the patient’s stomach.
    • Vertical Banded Gastroplasty – Also known as the Mason Procedure or stomach stapling, part of the stomach is stapled in order to create a new, smaller stomach. This smaller stomach is then used by the patient, preventing him from eating as much and achieving a feeling of fullness.
    • Adjustable Gastric Banding – This procedure is also known as lap band surgery. A silicone band is placed under the skin and can be adjusted through the removal or addition of saline. This is currently one of the most popular forms of weight loss surgery, and its name will almost always come up when someone asks, “What is weight loss surgery?”
  • Mixed Procedures – Mixed procedures decrease the size of the stomach, but they also limit the amount of nutrients taken in by the patient’s body.
    • Gastric Bypass Surgery – This is the most common type of weight loss surgery in the United States, and many believe it to be the most effective if post-surgery instructions are followed. Basically, stapling creates a smaller stomach, and the distal small intestine is then connected to this new stomach. A Y-configuration results when the upper part of the small intestine is reattached.
    • Implantable Gastric Stimulation – This method is still in development, and it uses electrical stimulation to signal a sense of fullness in the patient. It is currently being tested in the United States, and early tests suggest it may not be as effective as other methods.
    • Sleeve Gastrectomy with Duodenal Switch – The part of the stomach along its greater curve is surgically removed. A tubulization process is then performed which reduces food intake to around 150 ml. The stomach is disconnected from the duodenum and attached to the distal part of the small intestine. The upper part of the small intestine and the duodenum are reconnected near the colon. This procedure is not reversible.