Bariatric surgery, colloquially known as weight loss surgery, has proven effective for millions of individuals struggling with obesity and its attendant health complications. However, like any surgical procedure, it warrants critical consideration and understanding. From qualifying for the procedure to knowing what to expect, we will delve into the basics of bariatric surgery.

What is Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is a series of operations designed to help people lose weight by making modifications to the digestive system. The principal procedures include gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable gastric band, and biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch.

Who Qualifies for Bariatric Surgery?

General criteria for bariatric surgery include individuals with:

  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher (extreme obesity).
  • A BMI between 35 and 39.9 (obesity), and serious weight-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or severe sleep apnea.

Doctors might also consider bariatric surgery for someone with a BMI between 30 and 34 if the person has serious weight-related health problems.

Different Types of Bariatric Surgery

Gastric Bypass, often known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, is a process where the surgeon creates a small pouch at the top of the stomach. The smaller stomach is connected directly to the middle portion of the small intestine, bypassing the rest of the stomach and the upper portion of the small intestine.

Sleeve Gastrectomy involves removing about 80% of the stomach. The remaining slim portion of the stomach is then sealed with staples.

Adjustable Gastric Band involves placing a band around the upper part of the stomach to create a small pouch to hold food. The band can be adjusted to control the size of the pouch outlet.

Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch is a two-part surgery. First, a sleeve gastrectomy is performed where a large part of the stomach is removed. Secondly, the end of the small intestine is then attached to the duodenum, bypassing the majority of the small intestine.

What to Expect Before, During, and After the Procedure

Before the Procedure: You’ll undergo extensive preoperative screenings to ensure you are physically and psychologically prepared for the surgery and committed to a lifestyle change. This may include physical exams, lab tests, and mental health evaluations.

During the Procedure: Bariatric surgeries usually last 1 to 5 hours depending on the type of procedure. They can be open, laparoscopic, or robot-assisted surgeries, with varying recovery times.

After the Procedure: Post-operative care involves a stay in the hospital for a few days, followed by several weeks of recovery at home. New dietary habits - a high-protein, low-fat, low-sugar diet - must be adopted. Regular follow-ups with your surgeon and continuous lifestyle adjustments will be crucial to maintain weight loss success and manage potential complications.

Support and Community

Former patients' and mentors' advice and support can be incredibly useful when considering or recovering from bariatric surgery. You don't have to go through this significant lifestyle change alone. The Bariatric Eating Support Group is an excellent platform for connecting with others who have had bariatric surgery.

With over 20 years of experience, it's the most successful support group and website dedicated to bariatric weight loss on the planet. The group's achievements outshine any individual doctor's program, hospital plan, or any other resource.

Members of the Bariatric Eating Support Group benefit from the Inspire Diet's implementation and the exchange of personal experiences and advice. Check them out to learn more and hear from real people who have lived through the process.

Bariatric surgery is not just a medical decision but a lifestyle one, and having a strong support community can make the journey easier and more rewarding.

Bariatric surgery can be a life-changing decision for those struggling with obesity. However, it should never be considered as a substitute for good nutrition and regular physical activity. It's essential to understand that bariatrical surgery is a tool to help with weight loss – consistency and commitment are needed for long-term success. 

Always consult with a healthcare professional when considering bariatric surgery to fully understand the risks, benefits, and necessary lifestyle changes associated with this procedure.

February 21, 2024
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