When is it Time for Bariatric Surgery?

Making the decision to undergo weight loss surgery is a very big step to take. While these procedures have proven themselves time and again to be highly effective, most involve the permanent alteration of the body. With that in mind, those who are obese may find themselves asking how to tell when the time is right to consider this option.

Here are a few signs, courtesy of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, that can help people gauge if this type of procedure might be right for them:

• An excessively high BMI – In most cases, surgeons recommend bariatric surgery for patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher.
• A lower BMI with obesity-related health conditions – People with weight-related health concerns, such as diabetes, may find themselves candidates for procedures, such as a gastric bypass, if they have a BMI of 35 or higher.

Gastric bypass procedures and sleeve gastrostomies are generally only recommended in the above circumstances. People with BMIs of 35 or less and health-related concerns, however, may find themselves eligible for a different type of procedure. Gastric banding may be indicated in cases where obesity levels are not in the severe range.

While the above are general rules of thumb for those seeking gastric surgical procedures to promote weight loss, other factors should also generally go into play. Some surgeons prefer their patients also:

• Undergo counseling – Pre-surgical counseling is often highly recommended to ensure patients understand the full scope of the procedures, what to expect and the potential side effects that may crop up.
• Exhaust other methods – Many surgeons prefer their patients try exercise and health eating plans prior to moving forward with surgical procedures. Gastric bypasses, for example, are often seen as a last resort effort.

Obesity is connected with a number of serious illnesses and may even prove to be life-limiting. Those who are considering surgical options to lower weight are urged to discuss all their options directly with their healthcare providers.

Weight-Loss Surgery May Lower Alcohol Tolerance

People considering weight-loss surgery might want to keep a possible side effect in mind if their particular bariatric procedure happens to involve a gastric bypass. Researchers are finding this highly successful form of weight loss surgery may also lower a person’s tolerance for alcohol courtesy of faster entrance into the bloodstream.

Gastric bypass surgery is one of the more popular long-term, surgical weight loss solutions. This procedure involves lowering the stomach’s holding capacity while also rerouting digestion directly to the small intestine. It’s the latter half of the procedure that might cause some patients to feel the effects of alcohol faster and more profoundly, researchers have found.

A small-scale study on the topic was recently conducted by the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University’s School of Medicine in St. Louis, Miss. Here researchers pulled in 17 obese women for the study. Eight of the women had undergone gastric bypass procedures within five years prior to the study’s start. The other nine had not yet undergone the procedure.

During the course of the study, all women involved were asked to consume two standard alcoholic drinks or two non-alcoholic drinks within two 10-minute sessions conducted roughly a week apart. Researchers ultimately found that BAC levels among the bypass group exceeded legal limits for a half-hour following consumption. Those in the non-bypass group never saw their blood alcohol levels rise above the legal limit for driving.

While the study only involved a small group, it does point to the potential for alcohol to be more rapidly introduced into the blood stream following gastric bypass procedures. Patients considering this long-term weight loss solution may want to be very mindful of this potential side effect.

Gastric bypass procedures and other similar operations can be especially helpful in assisting people who are seriously obese in bringing weight down to more healthy levels. Before diving into any surgical option, however, patients are urged to discuss all the alternatives carefully with their healthcare providers.