For those who are morbidly obese, the procedures can be life-changing. In addition to helping patients shed pounds, some procedures such as gastric bypass surgery have been shown to eliminate other serious health problems, including diabetes.
But if you are considering a surgical procedure, it's important to do your homework and educate yourself on your options. Every patient is different. An experienced bariatric (weight loss) doctor will help determine if you are a candidate for surgery, and if so, which type of procedure is best for your situation. It is also essential that you take the time to learn how these surgeries are performed and what they do to your body to help you lose weight.
Weight loss surgery explained
While each type of procedure has its own process, the overall concept behind most types of weight loss surgery is the same.
Most procedures involve restricting the stomach in some fashion (this is called "gastric restriction") to create a smaller space for food. This alone doesn't necessarily restrict food intake; however, patients who receive the procedure become full quicker. With less "room" in the stomach, it takes smaller amounts of food for the patient to reach a feeling of fullness. In turn, this causes the patient to feel satisfied faster and for longer periods of time. Less food is consumed as a result.
Every procedure has a distinct process for gastric restriction. As a potential candidate for surgery, you should obtain specific information on each procedure available, so that you understand the differences.
Most common types of weight loss surgery
Here are the most common types of procedures available to those seeking a surgical solution to losing weight.
- Gastric band surgery: Also known as the Lap Band, this procedure involves placing a special band around the upper part of the stomach. The tighter the band, the smaller amounts of food it takes before you feel full.
- Gastric sleeve surgery: This procedure involves creating a thin, vertical sleeve within the stomach, while a larger portion of the stomach is stapled off.
- Gastric bypass surgery: Through an alteration of the digestive process, this procedure involves creating a smaller pouch within the stomach and attaching it to a portion of the small intestine so that food bypasses most of the small intestine.
- Gastric plication: This procedure is much like the traditional gastric sleeve; however, instead of stapling off a portion of the stomach, the stomach is sutured - essentially sewn together. This preserves the stomach's natural nutrient absorption capabilities.
- Gastric balloon: This is a non-surgical procedure that involves inflating a balloon-like device inside the stomach to help limit food intake by making patients feel full more quickly.