Obesity is a problem that has a major health issue across the globe. Studies suggest that about 6.4% of women and 4.0% of men between the ages of 15-49 are obese. We understand that obesity can be challenging to deal with, and when all non-surgical weight loss methods are ineffective, it can be extremely disheartening and discouraging.
If you are struggling with obesity and all past treatment efforts, such as exercise and dieting, have failed, a weight loss surgery may be an effective solution for you. In this blog, we will discuss what weight loss surgery is, the different types of weight loss surgeries, the various benefits of bariatric surgery, and if it is the right choice for you.
What is Weight Loss Surgery?
Weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery is an umbrella term referring to various surgical procedures performed to treat obesity. Weight loss surgery is generally performed when conventional weight loss methods, such as dieting and exercising, have failed to show any significant improvement. Some procedures limit how much you can eat. Other procedures work by reducing the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
Your healthcare provider may also recommend weight loss surgery if you struggle with potentially life-threatening weight-related health problems, such as:
- Heart disease and stroke
- High blood pressure
- Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) or Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)
- Sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
Types of Weight Loss Surgeries
There are primarily 3 methods of performing weight loss surgery:
- Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass: A Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure is one of the most commonly performed methods of gastric bypass. This surgery is not reversible and works by decreasing the amount of food you can eat in one sitting. This procedure also reduces the nutrients your body can absorb. A roux-en-Y surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia and begins with a cut being made across the top of the stomach. The resulting pouch is about the size of a walnut and can hold only a few grams of food.
Then, the surgeon cuts the small intestine and sews part of it directly into the pouch. Food then goes into this small pouch of stomach and then directly into the small intestine sewn to it. Food bypasses most of the stomach and the first section of the small intestine and instead enters directly into the middle part of the small intestine.
- Sleeve Gastrectomy: Sleeve gastrectomy, sometimes referred to as gastric sleeve, is another type of weight loss surgery that is performed to treat obesity. A sleeve gastrectomy surgery works by removing about 80% of the stomach, leaving behind a tubular ‘sleeve’ that is similar in size and shape to a banana.
The aim here is to reduce the size of your stomach and restrict the amount of food you can eat in one sitting. Alongside this, it also reduces the appetite-regulating hormone known as ghrelin. This helps lessen the desire to eat and prevent impulses that cause most patients to regain their lost weight.
One advantage of a sleeve gastrectomy procedure is that it can provide patients with significant weight loss without rerouting the intestines. Compared to other weight loss procedures, sleeve gastrectomy also requires a shorter hospital stay.
- Biliopancreatic Diversion: A biliopancreatic diversion surgery is a two-part surgery. The first step involves performing a procedure similar to sleeve gastrectomy. The second surgery involves connecting the end portion of the intestine to the duodenum near the stomach (duodenal switch and biliopancreatic diversion), bypassing most of the intestine.
A biliopancreatic diversion surgery limits both: the amount of food you can eat and how much nutrition your body can absorb. While highly effective, it has a greater risk of complications such as malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies.
Benefits of Bariatric Surgery
Alongside its ability to effectively treat obesity, a weight loss surgery can also have additional benefits such as:
- Significant, Sustained Weight Loss: Weight loss surgery is the only treatment that has been proven to be effective in treating Class 3 obesity over the long term.
- Improved Mobility and Joint Function: Obesity contributes to soft tissue damage and is often considered one of the leading causes of osteoarthritis. However, after a weight loss surgery, patients have reported reductions in chronic pain and improved functions of their joints.
- Reduced Hunger Hormone and Improved Metabolism: Weight loss surgery works by altering the digestive system itself to reduce the stomach’s capacity to hold food. Additionally, weight loss surgery can also reduce the production of appetite-regulating hormone known as ghrelin. These can help you significantly in your weight loss journey.
- Cholesterol and blood sugar management: Weight loss surgery often causes remission of diabetes symptoms and allows people with various metabolic syndromes to discontinue medications.
- A longer, healthier life: Besides reducing diseases and discomforts related to obesity, weight loss surgery can extend your life. Extensive scientific studies have shown that bariatric surgery reduces the risks of death from any cause by over 40%.
Recovery and Diet After Weight Loss Surgery
On average, recovery after weight loss surgery can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks. However, the recovery time may vary depending on various factors, such as the method of surgery, your overall health, and the quality of postoperative care. After the surgery, your surgeon will likely prepare a complete diet chart to ensure healthy, nutritious dietary habits and minimal stress on the digestive system until healing is complete. It is imperative that you follow this diet strictly. To help with the recovery, your surgeon will also recommend some temporary changes in your daily lifestyle, such as:
- Eat and Drink Slowly: Make sure to eat your food slowly. Take at least 30 minutes to eat your meals and 30 to 60 minutes to drink 1 cup of liquid.
- Drink Liquids between Meals: Eat several small meals a day. Your doctor may recommend you to start with six small meals a day. Then move to four meals. Once recovery is almost complete and your doctor thinks it’s safe, you can move on to three meals a day. Each meal should include about half a cup to 1 cup of food.
- Chew Food thoroughly: After weight loss surgery, the newly created opening from your stomach to smaller intestines is very small. This can cause it to be blocked by larger pieces of improperly chewed food. Take small bites of food and chew them to a pureed consistency before swallowing.
- Focus on High-protein Food: Incorporate protein-rich foods into your regular diet. Examples include meat, chicken, fish, tofu, milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese, beans, nuts, quinoa, and soy products.
- Avoid Foods that are High in Fat and Sugar: It is crucial to avoid foods that are too high in fat and sugar content. These foods travel quickly through the digestive system, leading to complications such as dumping syndrome. High-fat and sugar foods that you should avoid include red meat, greasy fast food, and soft drinks.
- Take prescribed Vitamins and Minerals: After surgery, your body won’t be able to absorb enough nutrients from your food. You’ll likely need to take a multivitamin supplement every day for the rest of your life.
Obesity is a condition that can be difficult to deal with. People often resort to surgical options when non-surgical options fail to provide significant results. However, treatment for obesity goes beyond just surgery. Following a nutritious, healthy diet planned out by your doctor can help you recover from surgery and transition to a way of eating that is healthy and sustainable. Remember that if you return to unhealthy eating habits after weight-loss surgery, you may not lose all of your excess weight or regain any weight you do lose.
If you are struggling with obesity and past efforts for weight loss have been ineffective, weight loss surgery may be a viable option for you. If you have any further questions regarding postoperative care after weight loss surgery or even considering to undergo weight loss surgery, you can contact us at Pristyn Care.Consult with our highly qualified and experienced general surgeons near you.
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