Over 50 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, with two out of three men considered overweight or obese, with much higher rates for women. It is predicted that 75 percent of Americans will be overweight or obese by 2020, as over 30 percent of adults and nearly 17 percent of children in America are currently considered obese. Obesity has resulted in an estimated 300,000 fatalities per year in America.
Bariatric surgery is a procedure that helps patients with severe obesity lose weight and better overall quality of life and life expectancy. Commonly referred to as “weight loss surgery,” bariatric surgery helps in weight loss through altering your digestive system to limit your intake of food so that you can eat or drink less but still feel full. Other forms of this surgery can involve altering the small intestine, which processes the calories and nutrients from your daily intake.
People who have undergone bariatric surgery typically lose between 15 and 30 percent of their initial body weight after surgeries. Maintaining and furthering the intended effects of the surgery is most effective if you follow the diet and exercise recommendations provided by our staff. Bariatric surgery is not the only option for people with severe obesity to lose weight, so it is important that you evaluate with your doctor if bariatric surgery is right for you.
What is Obesity?
Obesity can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, overeating and a lack of physical activity. For people with obesity, losing even a low percentage of body weight can reduce the risk of these health consequences and ultimately extend their life expectancy. Obesity is primarily preventable through social and personal changes that involve diet and exercise as the central treatments. Medications can also be taken to supplement a suitable diet and exercise.
If changes to diet, exercise and medication prove to be ineffective, bariatric surgery is a possible treatment that can reduce the volume of the stomach or intestine length. The effects of these surgeries involve eating and drinking less while feeling full sooner, in addition to better absorbing nutrients from food.
The most common bariatric surgical procedures that we offer are gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable gastric band, and duodenal switch.
Gastric bypass surgery, also the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass, aims to reduce food consumption by sectioning off the top part of the stomach and a portion of the small intestine and then connecting the two. The procedure results in a smaller stomach pouch created by the surgery, which leads to a patient feeling full with less caloric intake. This procedure usually results in long-term weight loss as a result of restricted consumption.
A sleeve gastrectomy involves removing a portion of the stomach. The edges left open of the remaining stomach are put together to resemble a sleeve. This surgery is typically performed with the laparoscopic method, meaning that it is minimally invasive. The newly formed stomach is considerably smaller, meaning that it can hold less, which helps reduce the amount of food consumed. The surgery also affects gut hormones, which impact hunger and blood sugar control. It should also be noted that this is a non-reversible procedure with the potential to cause long-term vitamin deficits.
The adjustable gastric band is another bariatric surgical procedure that involves banding the upper part of the stomach to create a smaller stomach pouch. By sectioning off the stomach with the band, the smaller portion of the stomach reduces the appetite by an increased feeling of fullness. The stomach size can be adjusted by adding or removing sterile saline, inserted in a port under the skin. Reduction of the stomach is a gradual process, eventually leading to an overall decrease of hunger, which helps to lower caloric intake. One of the advantages of this surgery is that there is no cutting of the actual stomach or intestines.
Another option is to get a sleeve gastrectomy with a duodenal switch. The same steps are taken as with the sleeve gastrectomy, by creating a smaller stomach and dividing the small intestine. Once the stomach pouch is created and the small intestine is bypassed, the stomach is connected to the last part of the small intestine, so that it can ultimately mix with the stream of food. This procedure results in lower absorption, which can lead to complications with vitamin levels. This surgery leads to reduced food consumption, which eventually can result in “normal” meals.
Our doctors are trained to safely perform bariatric surgeries, but as with all surgeries, there are risks involved. These include:
- Acid reflux
- Chronic nausea and vomiting
- Dilation of esophagus
- Low blood sugar
- Unexpected weight gain or inability to lose weight
After the surgery, patients typically return home after 2-3 days in the hospital. The recovery period varies depending on the type of bariatric surgery, but patients can expect to resume normal activity within 3-5 weeks. Once you have returned to your normal range of function, it is important that you follow healthy diet and exercise recommendations in order to further and maintain weight loss.