Weight-loss surgeries are commonly referred to as ‘bariatric surgery’, even though there are several different forms. Bariatric surgery alters the structure and function of your digestive tract, helping you to lose weight and manage obesity-related medical issues.
If you're wondering whether bariatric surgery is safe, the simple answer is yes. Bariatric surgery is accepted as a safe procedure by reputable medical organizations and renowned health experts.
One of your main concerns could be whether bariatric surgery is suitable for you. Although the general safety profile for weight-loss operations is positive, each type of surgery may have its side effects that might be more or less likely, depending on an individual's risk factors.
Several factors will influence the type of weight-loss surgery that may be most effective in helping you to lose weight. This article will take a deeper look at these surgical alternatives and what they include. We'll also discuss their benefits and risks, and when to choose one over the other.
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In the United States, three primary weight-loss procedures are currently available:
Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding
Gastric bypass surgery
Gastric bypass surgery is also known as a ‘Roux-en-Y’ gastric bypass. The digestive system is rerouted past the stomach to enhance satisfaction and reduce appetite.
A tiny pouch is created from your stomach and connected directly to a piece of your small intestine, bypassing the remainder of the stomach. This means that you'll need less food to feel full, and you'll absorb fewer calories from your meals.
Adjustable gastric banding
In gastric banding, a silicone band is wrapped around the top region of your stomach, restricting the quantity of food you can consume in one go. Gastric banding is adjustable; the band may be fastened or relaxed to suit your needs.
Sleeve gastrectomy surgery
A sleeve gastrectomy removes around 75% to 85% of the stomach to form a smaller stomach pouch. This surgical technique decreases the amount of food you can consume, prompting you to feel full more quickly. This surgical method does not affect nutritional absorption.
If you're thinking about having bariatric surgery, consult with your doctor on which type could be best for you based on your:
These operations have advantages and disadvantages, and none of these operations is a quick fix to lose weight. For any form of success, you must still adhere to a diet and exercise regimen – surgery is only a tool to aid weight loss.
Bariatric procedures are not appropriate for everyone, and they are only performed if the patient's excessive weight poses a major health risk or hindrance. Before you undergo weight-loss surgery, you will be sent to a specialized clinic for an evaluation to see whether the procedure is right for you.
Body mass index (BMI) is the basic medical criterion for weight-loss surgery. BMI is extensively used as a quick and accurate measure to determine if you have a healthy weight for your height.
In general, you are a candidate for weight-loss surgery if you have a BMI of 40 or above or weigh more than 100 pounds above your ideal weight.
Aside from losing weight, there are several other potential health benefits of bariatric surgery¹:
The threat to your health can be reduced by weight loss through surgery instead of remaining morbidly obese
Effective weight-loss surgery can boost your self-esteem and morale
Renewed assurance and control over a life in which you have long struggled with being overweight
Complications from weight-loss surgery are possible, and some of them can be significant. These complications can emerge following surgery or later on, and they differ depending on the kind of weight-loss surgery you have.
The following risks may be related to weight-loss surgical procedures:
Adverse side effects of anesthesia
Chronic nausea and vomiting
Inability to consume certain foods
Gaining weight or failing to lose weight
Patients who have bariatric surgery may face some long-term concerns, including the following:
Dumping syndrome – a condition where the stomach empties too much of its content into the small intestine too fast. It is characterized by diarrhea, flushing, lightheadedness, nausea, and vomiting.
Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia)
While there are dangers with every surgical operation, bariatric surgery is one of the safest. It is currently the most effective treatment for extreme obesity and the associated metabolic consequences. However, weight-loss operations do not all have the same success rate.
Vertical sleeve gastrectomy and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgeries employ a laparoscopic strategy to lessen the risk of recurrence.
Gastric banding has fallen out of favor in recent years² due to numerous problems and some patients needing further surgery.
Each type of weight-loss surgery has particular advantages for different people, depending on your health and situation. All procedures carry some risk. However, restrictive surgeries are safer than surgeries which are both restrictive and malabsorptive since they do not completely affect the digestive system.
The weight loss with gastric banding is lower than with other operations. Additionally, someone who has had gastric banding is more prone to gain weight in the long run. On the other hand, there is a reduced danger of nutritional inadequacy since the surgery does not affect nutrient absorption.
For severely obese people with underlying health concerns, a sleeve gastrectomy is a considerably safer, easier procedure. Weight loss is substantial, and nutritional absorption is unaffected. If you've had several prior abdominal procedures or are on psychiatric medication, sleeve gastrectomy surgery may be the best for you.
If you have an obesity-related disorder, gastric bypass surgery may be beneficial. It also offers strong long-term weight-loss outcomes. The disadvantages are hernias and nutritional deficits due to malabsorption.
Surgery is one of the most effective treatments for people looking to lose weight, in addition to dietary and lifestyle changes. However, as with any health intervention, there are potentially significant drawbacks to bariatric surgery. People respond differently to it; everyone varies in terms of how they lose weight and how much they lose over time.
In addition to the primary objective of losing weight, weight-loss surgery can provide numerous other advantages, such as improved health, well-being and quality of life, and extended life expectancy. However, since bariatric surgery is a surgical procedure, there are complications that you should be aware of.
Your doctor can help you assess whether you are a suitable candidate and, if so, which surgical procedure is ideal for you.