Choosing to undergo weight loss surgery is a major decision that will affect how you live the rest of your life, and should only be made after some serious deliberations with your doctor. Weight loss surgery is typically performed for one of two reasons:
1.) The patient is literally at risk of sudden death if they don’t lose weight immediately, and/or
2.) Suffers from a medical condition that prevents them from achieving a healthy weight through conventional means, i.e. diet and exercise.
In other words, weight loss surgery is not used to shed the last few vanity pounds, not is it the “easier way” when compared to diet and exercise. Having this surgery involves risk and will require you to make permanent changes to how you eat and live.
With that in mind, here are the most common types of weight loss surgeries:
This type of surgery limits the amount of food your stomach is able to hold by restricting the size of your stomach by either an adjustable band or permanent removal of part of the stomach. These include:
• Gastric band surgery: An elastic band is used to squeeze the stomach into two chambers. As one consumes a meal, the feeling of fullness occurs almost immediately. Consequently, less food is eaten, causing weight loss. The opening between the two chambers is adjustable, and the band can eventually be removed entirely.
• Sleeve gastrectomy: In this procedure, the surgeon removes approximately 75 percent of your stomach, leaving a “sleeve” that connects to the intestines. Unlike gastric band surgery, a sleeve gastrectomy is not reversible. This is sometimes followed by a gastric bypass surgery.
• Gastric bypass surgery: This is the most common type of weight loss surgery, and provides the quickest results. In it, the surgeon divides the stomach into two parts, then connects the upper into the lower section of the small intestine. This creates a two-fold effect: First, the size of the stomach is reduced. Secondly, much of the small intestine is bypassed, resulting in fewer calories being absorbed. The end result is rapid weight loss. However, fewer nutrients are being absorbed, so much care must be given to the nutritive qualities of the foods being consumed.
Similar to how a pacemaker works, an electrical pulse is delivered to the vagus nerve that runs between the stomach and the brain and tells us when we feel full. The unit cycles on and off in 5-minute intervals, and can be controlled from outside the body.
Although the levels of invasiveness vary with all of these methods, keep in mind that all weight loss surgeries are considered major surgeries and risks include infection of the surgical site, nausea, and vomiting. In procedures that are reversible, there is the chance that the weight can return.