People who are morbidly obese may find their healthcare providers recommending weight loss surgery to help them get this potentially life-limiting concern in check. Courtesy of major advances in bariatric surgery, patients today have several options that may help them achieve the goal of having a leaner, healthier body.
While the goal of all forms of bariatric surgery is to help people shed pounds and keep them off, not all procedures are exactly alike. Here are the most common procedures and what patients can expect from them:
• Lap band – This procedure involves the placement of a small band at the top of the stomach. It essentially limits the amount of food that can be eaten at one time by narrowing entry. Considered fully reversible and adjustable, lap band procedures tend to produce the most modest weight loss results.
• Sleeve gastrectomy – This procedure involves the removal of a portion of the stomach and the surgical reshaping of what is left. When all is said and done, the remaining stomach looks like a banana or “sleeve.” This option helps people lose weight by limiting their ability to hold food on a permanent basis. Once it is performed, the removed stomach section is gone for good.
• Gastric bypass – This procedure takes a two-prong approach to weight loss. The stomach holding capacity is limited in the first prong of this procedure. In addition, the small intestine is connected directly to the new stomach pouch to limit absorption of calories.
People who are considered severely obese are urged to talk to their healthcare providers about all weight loss options. Bariatric surgery is generally recommended only once all other efforts at weight loss have been exhausted. Generally, a body mass index of 35 or higher is required for surgeons to even entertain the idea of employing a bariatric procedure to help a patient lose weight.