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Published on July 17, 2023

Bariatric Surgery: An Effective Solution for Sustainable Weight Loss

Obesity has become a global epidemic, affecting millions of people worldwide. For individuals who have struggled with their weight and failed to achieve sustainable results through traditional weight-loss methods, bariatric surgery offers a potential solution. 

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight-loss surgery, is a surgical procedure designed to help individuals lose weight by altering their digestive system. In this article, we will explore what bariatric surgery is, who it is suitable for, the different types of surgery available, preparing for surgery, post-surgery care, maintaining weight loss, and finding the right bariatric surgeon in the UK.

What is Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is a medical intervention that aims to reduce the size of the stomach or modify the digestive tract to restrict food intake and promote weight loss. It achieves this through various mechanisms, including reducing the stomach’s capacity, altering the absorption of nutrients, or a combination of both.

Who is a Suitable Candidate for Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is typically recommended for individuals with severe obesity or those who have failed to lose weight through other methods. Generally, candidates for private weight loss surgery have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher or a BMI of 35-39.9 with obesity-related health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, or sleep apnea. 

However, each patient’s eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis, considering factors such as overall health, willingness to commit to lifestyle changes, and the absence of contraindications.

Types of Bariatric Surgery

Gastric Bypass:

Gastric bypass surgery, also known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, is one of the most common and effective bariatric procedures. During this surgery, the surgeon creates a small stomach pouch by stapling off a section of the stomach. This restricts the amount of food that can be consumed, leading to a feeling of fullness with smaller meals.

Next, the surgeon reroutes the small intestine, attaching it to the newly created stomach pouch. This bypasses a portion of the small intestine, reducing the absorption of calories and nutrients. The smaller stomach and rerouting of the intestines result in both restriction and malabsorption, leading to weight loss.

Gastric bypass surgery offers excellent long-term weight loss outcomes and is associated with the resolution of many obesity-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Sleeve Gastrectomy

Sleeve gastrectomy, also known as gastric sleeve surgery, involves removing a large portion of the stomach to create a smaller, sleeve-shaped stomach pouch. This procedure permanently reduces the stomach’s capacity, leading to a feeling of fullness with smaller meals.

During the surgery, the surgeon removes approximately 75-85% of the stomach, leaving behind a narrow tube or sleeve. Unlike gastric bypass, there is no rerouting of the intestines involved in this procedure, preserving the normal digestive process.

The gastric sleeve procedure limits food intake and produces hormonal changes that help reduce appetite. It has shown significant weight loss results and improvement in obesity-related comorbidities.

Adjustable Gastric Banding

Adjustable gastric banding, commonly known as gastric band surgery, involves placing an inflatable silicone band around the upper part of the stomach. The band is connected to an access port under the skin, allowing for adjustments as needed.

The band creates a small pouch at the top of the stomach, restricting the amount of food that can be consumed. By inflating or deflating the band through the access port, the surgeon can control the tightness and adjust the restriction on food intake.

Unlike gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy, gastric banding does not involve removing or rerouting any part of the stomach or intestines. The procedure is reversible, and adjustments can be made over time to optimize weight loss.

Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (BPD/DS)

Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (BPD/DS) is a complex bariatric surgery that combines aspects of both restrictive and malabsorptive procedures.

During the surgery, the surgeon removes a large portion of the stomach, similar to a sleeve gastrectomy, creating a smaller stomach pouch. This restrictive component limits the amount of food that can be consumed.

Additionally, a portion of the small intestine is bypassed, rerouting the digestive tract to reduce nutrient absorption. This malabsorptive component helps further limit calorie absorption.

BPD/DS is generally recommended for individuals with severe obesity and can result in substantial weight loss. However, it is considered a more complex procedure and may require more extensive follow-up care and nutritional monitoring.

Each type of bariatric surgery has its own advantages, considerations, and potential risks. It is crucial to consult with a qualified bariatric surgeon who can assess your individual needs and recommend the most suitable procedure for you.

Preparing for Surgery

Before undergoing bariatric surgery, thorough preparation is necessary. This includes medical evaluations, dietary counseling, and psychological assessments. The patient may need to make certain lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, managing chronic conditions, and following a pre-surgery diet to reduce liver size and facilitate the procedure.

Post-Surgery Care

After bariatric surgery, patients require diligent post-operative care to ensure a smooth recovery and successful weight loss. This typically involves a carefully monitored diet plan, incorporating a gradual transition from liquids to pureed foods and then solid foods.

Regular exercise and ongoing support from healthcare professionals, including nutritionists and psychologists, are crucial for long-term success. It is important to attend follow-up appointments to monitor progress, manage potential complications, and address any concerns.

Maintaining Weight Loss

Bariatric surgery is a powerful tool for weight loss, but it requires commitment and lifestyle changes to achieve long-term success. Patients must adopt healthy eating habits, practice portion control, engage in regular physical activity, and attend support groups to address the emotional and psychological aspects of weight management. 

Continued collaboration with healthcare professionals can provide ongoing guidance and help patients maintain their weight loss.

Finding the Right Bariatric Surgeon in the UK:

When considering bariatric surgery, it is essential to find a skilled and experienced surgeon. In the UK, the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society (BOMSS) can provide valuable information and resources to help individuals identify qualified surgeons. Additionally, seeking recommendations from healthcare professionals, attending informational seminars, and researching surgeons’ credentials, patient reviews, and success rates are essential steps in finding the right surgeon.

Conclusion

Bariatric surgery is a life-changing procedure that offers hope to individuals struggling with severe obesity. By reducing the stomach’s capacity or modifying the digestive tract, it helps patients achieve sustainable weight loss and improve their overall health. However, it is crucial to undergo a comprehensive evaluation, prepare for surgery, and commit to long-term lifestyle changes to maximize the benefits of bariatric surgery.

By finding the right surgeon and receiving ongoing support, individuals can embark on a transformative journey towards improved health and a better quality of life.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice. Consult a qualified healthcare professional for personalized guidance regarding bariatric surgery.


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