Affecting more than 90 million Americans, obesity is defined by the National Institutes of Health as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. For individuals who have tried unsuccessfully to lose excess weight, there is an understandable frustration, especially when there is sincere desire to adopt a healthy lifestyle. When other efforts fail, weight loss surgery options may present a practical solution and an added incentive to make other positive changes.
There are many different types of weight loss surgery options, including:
Restrictive Weight Loss Surgery
The purpose of restrictive weight loss surgery is to physically reduce the size of the stomach to slow the digestive process and minimize the intake of food since you will feel fuller with less food. The human stomach normally holds about 33 ounces of food. Following surgery, it holds about an ounce of food, although this may slowly increase to 2-3 ounces.
Malabsorptive/Restrictive Weight Loss Surgery
Oftentimes referred to as bypass surgery, weight loss surgery of this nature produces as small stomach and “bypasses” part of the digestive tract, usually a portion of the small intestine. As a result, fewer calories are absorbed from food. Most weight loss surgeries performed are a combination of reduced absorption and the restriction of food intake.
Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass
This type of gastric bypass surgery results in the creation of a small pouch, which will be where your food goes when consumed, that will be located at the top of the stomach. The small intestine is cut and re-connected to the new pouch, although the rest of the stomach is still attached to the rest of the intestine to allow food to mix with essential digestive juices. Weight loss is achieved since fewer calories and nutrients are absorbed; which is why it is important for patients to make healthy eating choices to ensure the body still gets necessary nutrients.
Adjustable Gastric Banding
Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding is a type of weight loss surgery where an inflatable balloon is positioned around the upper portion of the stomach. This “adjustable band” is then tightened to create a small pouch. Since the band doesn’t completely cut off the rest of the stomach, food can still pass through a narrow opening. A tube connected to a port surgical placed under the skin is put in place so fluid can be injected to inflate band or removed to reduce the size of the band if it’s too tight. While this procedure reduces how much food the stomach can hold, it doesn’t alter the absorption of nutrients and calories. This is the only form of weight loss surgery that is reversible.
A portion of the stomach is removed with a sleeve gastrectomy. The remainder of the stomach is molded into a tube-like structure to produce a smaller stomach. This procedure also reduces the desire to eat by minimizing the production of ghrelin, a hormone associated with appetite regulation. Calorie and nutrient absorption isn’t affected with this procedure.
Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch
Similar to a sleeve gastrectomy, this type of weight procedure also involves the removal of a portion of the stomach. The duodenum, or first part of the small intestine, remains in place, as does a valve that controls the release of food to the rest of the digestive tract. The middle portion of the intestine is surgically connected to the duodenum in what is referred to as a “duodenal switch.” The separated part of the intestine is attached to the end part of the intestine to allow the digestive process to naturally complete. Fewer calories and nutrients are absorbed as food bypasses the majority of the small intestine.
Is Weight Loss Surgery Right for You?
Weight loss surgery isn’t for everyone. Ideal candidates for any procedure must have a BMI of 35 or more, according to the standards followed by most surgeons, and be, at least, 100 pounds over their ideal weight. Individuals with a lower BMI who are still clinically considered obese are considered if they have a health issue that will likely improve with weight loss, such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.
Determining which type of weight loss surgery is appropriate for your situation will start with a consultation with a surgeon specializing in weight loss surgery options. While many patients do see positive results with surgical weight loss, it’s a process that extends beyond the surgery itself. Odds of enjoying long-term benefits after your procedure will greatly increase if you are committed to getting regular exercise and making healthy dietary choices.