Maybe you’ve heard of weight loss surgery before, and maybe you’ve thought it sounds like a pretty sweet deal for losing weight fast. This is not exactly the case. Weight loss surgery is a very comprehensive lifestyle change that takes time, effort, and discipline. Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is valuable for those who need it and are committed to being successful post-surgery. We will dive into weight loss surgery and the entire process in this blog below.
Am I a candidate?
Obesity is an epidemic in the United States and sadly obesity is rarely unaccompanied. Many people who suffer from obesity also suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, acid reflux, sleep apnea, and more. Weight loss surgery is extremely helpful because not only does it assist the patient in losing weight but it is known to address these health conditions as well. In order to be a candidate for weight loss surgery, you must have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above or 35 with comorbidity (one of the issues listed above). Calculate your BMI at the bottom of the page here!
What weight loss surgery options are there?
There are a few different types of weight loss surgery available:
This is the most common type and ranked #1 in the US. This is a laparoscopic procedure, meaning the surgeon makes a few small incisions and performs the surgery through them. In this surgery, the surgeon removes about 80% of the stomach. Now the patient has a much smaller stomach than before. To put it into perspective, a stomach is usually football-sized and after this surgery, it is similar to the size of a small banana. Because of this, the patient feels full eating much less. Most patients experience tremendous weight loss over a period of time, about a year or so. This type of surgery is very safe and very successful but is not the best at combatting heartburn.
The second most common option is also a laparoscopic procedure. In this surgery, the surgeon creates a new stomach at the top of your normal stomach. S/he reroutes the intestine to this new part, allowing food to skip the rest of the stomach. This procedure restricts the amount of food the stomach can hold and limits the calories and nutrients your body absorbs. In this option, the stomach shrinks from football-sized to golf ball size. Gastric Bypass usually leads to very rapid weight loss (the most weight loss of all the options) and is the best for treating heartburn and diabetes. However, due to the limited nutrient absorption, it is crucial for the patient to take the necessary vitamins for the rest of their life.
Lap-band is a laparoscopic procedure in which the surgeon places a silicone ring around the upper part of the stomach. This creates a smaller pouch and decreases food consumption by making the patient feel full sooner. While many people experience success with this option, it is not the most appropriate anymore. This procedure places a prosthetic system into your body that can potentially cause other issues, and the weight lost from this procedure is usually less than the others. This form is a two-year weight loss process.
Orbera is a non-surgical procedure that can be approved for a person with a BMI of 30 or higher. This surgery is best for those who are not severely obese, as weight loss is typically 20-40 pounds. The surgeon inserts the balloon orally with a scope and places it in the stomach. He or she fills the balloon with a saline solution, expanding it into the stomach and limiting space for food. After 6 months with the balloon, the surgeon pops and removes the balloon. Since this option is temporary, weight regain is very common. Learn more about Orbera here.
What is the entire process like?
Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix as mentioned earlier. It is a tool to help you achieve weight loss, but ultimately your behaviors and habits are what determine success. We want to give you the education and support necessary to build and maintain this lifestyle. For that reason, we have a comprehensive program in place. You start by attending a weight loss seminar to learn all about the surgeries, who is a candidate, the process, and if it truly is a good fit for you. Watch a recording of our seminar here. After that you will begin the consultation process, attend educational meetings with a dietitian and registered nurse, undergo a psychological evaluation, and more, before you have surgery. Typically it takes three months from starting the process until surgery actually happens.
After surgery, you will continue to follow up with the dietitian, registered nurse, and surgeon. To ensure you have the tools critical to achieving long-term success, we recommend following up with your surgeon for life. You will attend support group sessions for more education and interaction with others who are going through the same thing. As previously stated, this is a lifestyle change and it can be difficult to adjust to new a diet, exercise, and vitamin regimen. Having others who can relate and provide insight and advice is very important. Read more in-depth about our process here.
Our goal for all of our patients is health and happiness. Weight loss surgery can vastly improve one’s quality of life. It can eliminate existing health conditions and is even recognized as a treatment option for type 2 diabetes. It’s never too late to take control of your life and health, so take the first step and watch our seminar video to see if weight loss surgery could be an option for you. Do not hesitate to call our team and ask any questions about our weight loss program. Our bariatric coordinator, Heather, will be happy to assist in any way she can: 605-217-5511.