Bariatric surgery is the most effective way to lose excess weight and keep it off in the long term. It is also called weight loss surgery or obesity surgery. The different types of bariatric surgery are explained.
What is bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgery is surgery that affects your stomach and how you digest food. It produces it’s effect in two ways:
Firstly, it makes your stomach much smaller, which causes you to feel full after eating only a small amount of food. Secondly, it changes your hunger hormones (ghrelin, leptin etc) there by your appetite is significantly reduced. You eat less food and absorb fewer calories after bariatric surgery.
What types of bariatric surgery?
The most common types in Australia are lap band surgery (called gastric banding), gastric bypass and gastric sleeve surgery. The surgery is usually done as a keyhole procedure, in which there are a number of small cuts in your tummy. But sometimes, open surgery with larger cuts is needed.
In lap band surgery, an adjustable ring is put around the top part of the stomach to create a very small pouch that increases the time food remains in the top part of the stomach.
In gastric bypass, a small stomach pouch is created by stapling. This is joined directly to the small intestine after some of the intestine has been removed. Food bypasses most of the stomach and fewer calories are absorbed.
In gastric sleeve surgery, most of the stomach is removed, including the part that makes a hormone which makes you feel hungry.
Most people lose weight for 1 to 2 years after gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery, then they stop losing weight.
When should I consider bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgery is usually offered to people who are very obese (with a body mass index over 40), or people with a body mass index over 35 who have other serious health problems like diabetes or heart disease.
You could consider bariatric surgery, but only after trying alternatives. The first step is usually to try changes to what you eat and drink, and what daily activity and exercise you do. There are some medicines that can help people lose weight. Surgery is usually thought about only after these other options have been tried.
The health benefits of weight loss include improvements in type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure and improved heart health.
What do I need to do to have success after bariatric surgery?
You will need to make significant lifestyle changes after bariatric surgery to lose weight and keep it off. For example, you will need to follow dietary guidelines, and you’ll probably take vitamins or other supplements for life. Your weight loss program will also involve increased physical activity.
What are the risks of Bariatric Surgery?
Every operation has risks. You might pick up an infection, lose a lot of blood, or react to the anaesthetic. Also, smoking can increase your risk significantly and if you are a heavy smoker, we require you to quit smoking at least eight weeks prior to surgery.
There are different specific risks for the different types of bariatric surgery. For example, lap band surgery is safer than gastric bypass. Your surgeon will discuss these with you at your consultation.