While many people can maintain a healthy weight by eating healthy and regularly exercising, general lifestyle choices alone are sometimes not enough to achieve your goals. When combined with lifestyle changes, bariatric surgery – also known as weight loss surgery – can provide excellent long term weight loss access.
Here are four things to know about bariatric surgery.
1) Obesity is a metabolic illness.
Without addressing the underlying metabolic illness of severe obesity, diets and exercise often fail.
“Obesity is not just about calories in and calories out. It’s a complex medical illness in which the body stores excess amounts of fat.”
Obesity changes how people metabolize food and alters the hormones that control appetite and hunger. That explains why it may be exceptionally hard to lose the weight that you may have gained. Bariatric surgery is a tool that can help address these issues to help people lose weight and keep it off.
2) There are several types of bariatric surgery.
When it comes to weight loss surgery, there are several options available to patients. Each type has its own benefits, and like all surgeries, a potential for risks.
Lap Band: this surgery involves adding an adjustable band across the upper part of the stomach to limit how much food it can hold. Lap Band is no longer commonly performed; many surgeons perform newer procedures that have better long-term outcomes. With lap band, there is also a risk of the band moving out of place or causing tissue damage.
Sleeve Gastrectomy: this procedure involves removing part of the stomach, reducing its size by about 80% so it can hold less food. Sleeve gastrectomy also decreases production of the hunger hormone grehlin. Risk can include leaks, or openings, where the stomach is stapled, but this risk is much less than 1%. This surgery is not recommended for patients with severe acid reflux.
Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass: this surgery involves reducing the stomach to the size of an egg. Then a surgeon connects this small stomach pouch to a piece of the intestine downstream, bypassing the rest of the stomach. This allows the stomach to absorb fewer calories and changes the way the body processes food. Risks can include (rare) leaks, malabsorption from lack of nutrients, (rare) bowel obstructions and “dumping” syndrome, when sugary foods processed quickly and cause discomfort.
Single Anastomosis Duodenal Bypass with Sleeve Gastrectomy (SADI-S): this newer surgery combines the benefits of sleeve gastrectomy with gastric bypass. A surgeon performs a sleeve gastrectomy, then connects the new, smaller stomach to a part of the intestine downstream. This procedure has a lower risk of dumping and is most beneficial for patients with the higher body mass index. Risk can include (rare) leaks, reflux and malabsorption. This is also an excellent surgery for patients who have gained weight after a previous leave gastrectomy.
“We are proud to offer the entire range of bariatric surgery, and we will help determine which one is best for you”, says Dr. Bhoyrul.
The right surgery depends on several factors, including how much weight and fat you are looking to lose, medical conditions you may have, and how much support you will need after surgery.
3) Bariatric surgery can be performed both laparoscopically and robotically.
Bariatric surgery can be performed with minimally invasive, laparoscopic surgery and with new robotic assisted technology. While there are many myths surrounding robotic surgery, it has great patient outcomes and several benefits.
“With robotic surgery, there’s a misconception that the robot does the surgery by itself, when actually the surgeon is in constant control of the robotic surgical platform”, says Dr. Pascal Bortz, a board-certified surgeon at Sharp Coronado Hospital who specializes in minimally invasive bariatric surgery.
Benefits of robotic surgery includes smaller incisions, fewer complications, less pain, faster recovery and excellent long-term outcomes.
4) Surgery needs to be combined with a commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
“It’s important to remember that bariatric surgery is a tool”, says Dr. Bhoyrul. “It’ll help you lose weight; it’ll help you keep it off, but surgery alone is not going to do this. You must be committed to making healthy food choices and staying active.”
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