All You Need to Know About Bariatric Surgery

Dr.Poonam Sharma

May 25, 2021

Bariatric surgery is a type of weight-loss surgery performed on people who are obese and wish to lose weight. It is generally considered when a person suffers from severe health issues due to obesity, and no other method, whether diet or workouts, has helped. 

In this article, we discuss bariatric surgery, its types, the risks involved in this surgery, and also provide a comprehensive view of the topic.

What is Bariatric Surgery?

What is Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is an umbrella term for various weight-loss operations like gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, etc., and involves changing your digestive system to help you lose excess weight.

These surgical procedures work by reducing the amount of food you eat or by reducing the number of nutrients your body absorbs, or in a few cases, both.

This is a specialized surgery and is advised only for those people who cannot lose weight naturally through diets or workouts. The person undergoing this surgery will have to make a few lifestyle changes and plan their workout regime to assure the surgery’s permanent success.

What are the types of bariatric surgery, and how to discover the right one for yourself?

There are four different types of bariatric surgeries available for patients. The doctor will select the type of surgery to be performed depending on your health and the severity of the condition. The four types are as follows:

#1 Roux-en-Y gastric bypass

Gastric bypass is one of the most common surgical methods performed for weight loss. It is an irreversible surgery and works by marginalizing the amount of food you can consume and by decreasing the absorption of nutrients in your body. 

The surgeon will cut the top portion of your stomach. This portion will be sealed from the rest of the stomach, resulting in a walnut-sized pouch. This pouch will be able to hold only an ounce of food at a time as opposed to the 3 pints of food that your stomach usually holds. 

Then, the surgeon cuts a part of the intestine and connects it with the pouch. This ensures that the food bypasses most of your stomach and directly goes into the middle part of your intestines.

Who’s it good for?

Gastric bypass is particularly beneficial for people with severe acid reflux. It may also show significant improvement in people with high BMIs and Type – 2 diabetes.

#2 Adjustable gastric banding

This surgery involves placing an adjustable silicone band on the top portion of your stomach. The band reduces the size of the stomach, limiting the amount of food a person can eat. 

This procedure is minimally invasive and only decreases the food intake without affecting the nutrient absorption capacity of your body.

Who’s it good for?

People who wish to lose weight gradually and want to select a surgery with minimal scars and a shorter hospital stay usually opt this surgery.

#3 Vertical sleeve gastrectomy

In this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in your belly and removes about 80% of your stomach. After the removal of your stomach, a long tube-like pouch remains, which will be able to hold only a small amount of food. The small, sleeve-like stomach will also be able to produce an appetite-regulating hormone known as ghrelin. The absence of this hormone will reduce your desire to eat.

Who’s it good for?

Sleeve gastrectomy is generally opted by people who have had multiple surgeries in the past and weigh more than 200 – 300 kgs. 

#4 Biliopancreatic diversion with a duodenal switch

It is a two-part surgery, where the first is similar to the sleeve gastrectomy. In the second part, the surgeon will connect the end of the intestine to the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). The food that enters from the stomach bypasses most of the intestine, thus ensuring less absorption of nutrients.

Who’s it good for?

Duodenal switch is a good match for people with severe metabolic syndrome or hormonal Imbalance in the body.

Who Usually Undergoes Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery can only be opted by people who meet the following guidelines :

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is 40 or higher
  • Your BMI is between 35 and 39.9, and you suffer from severe health conditions like Type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea. You may even qualify for this surgery if your weight is interfering with your health and you need to lose a good amount of weight in a minimal period.

When is it time for Bariatric Surgery?

Most people who undergo bariatric surgery are severely obese. However, it may be the right time to consider undergoing a weight loss surgery if, apart from meeting the medical criteria, you’re also suffering from any of the following conditions:

  • Poor cardiovascular health
  • Atherosclerosis or hypertension due to internal fat deposits
  • Severe type – 2 diabetes
  • Cancers related to fat deposits
  • Infertility or recurrent miscarriages due to obesity

How can weight loss surgery benefit you?

We know bariatric surgery helps in losing weight. But some of its benefits go beyond just reducing numbers on the weighing scale. They are:

  • Improved cardiovascular health: Weight loss surgeries help lower the blood pressure of your body. This, in turn, may help reduce the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, or several other cardiovascular disorders. 
  • Eliminate obstructive sleep apnea: Sustaining a normal weight may help get better sleep and eliminate sleep apnea in a few months.
  • Alleviates other medical conditions: Bariatric surgeries are also known to relieve several medical conditions like metabolic syndrome, type – 2 diabetes, pregnancy complications, etc.
  • Improves fertility: A reduction in weight may also increase fertility and reduce the risk of miscarriage in women.

Risks and Long-Term Side-Effects of Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery offers quick results but may carry a few risks and long-term side effects. Some of the other risks and side-effects from bariatric surgery are:

  • Severe bleeding from the stomach
  • Infection in the intestines or stomach
  • Fluctuations in blood sugar level
  • Blood clots
  • Ulcers or perforations in the lining of your stomach or intestine
  • Malnutrition due to less absorption of nutrients 
  • Weakness, nausea, and fatigue 
  • Bowel obstruction 
  • Acid reflux
  • Recurring gallstones
  • Hernia
  • The constant fear of gaining weight
  • Anxiety or depression

It is necessary to be aware and discuss these side effects with your doctor or bariatric surgeon before undergoing this surgery.

Pros of Natural Weight Loss

Losing weight is not an easy feat. Especially with the restrictions in diet and soul-crushing workouts, we know it can get challenging. However, natural weight loss comes with a great set of incredible benefits that can make all those sacrifices worth it. Some significant pros of losing weight naturally are:

#1 Better sleep

Better sleep

Research says that even 5% weight loss can lead to a person experiencing better sleep than usual. Thus, by opting for natural weight loss methods like exercising and dieting, you can physically tire yourself out, reduce weight, and achieve a good night’s sleep.

#2 Reduced heartburn

Reduced heartburn

The extra pounds on your body puts excess pressure on the stomach, which leads to acid reflux. This acid reflux can cause severe chest pain and heartburn. By consuming a healthy diet and reducing weight naturally, you can easily cure recurring heartburn.

#3 Good mood

Good mood

Regular exercise allows the release of endorphins or the ‘feel-good hormones’ in your body. These hormones may help alleviate any pain you feel in your body and put you in a good mood for the rest of the day.

#4 Reduced anxiety and tension

Reduced anxiety and tension

Consuming a balanced diet, exercising, and getting a good amount of regular sleep may help relieve the tension and anxiety you feel in your body.

#5 Increased self-esteem

Increased self-esteem

For many people, having a good physique automatically boosts their self-esteem. The moment they shed that extra weight, they start feeling better and more confident about themselves. Losing weight naturally may help you gain that confidence.

#6 Reduced risk of diabetes and blood pressure

Reduced risk of diabetes and blood pressure

The chemicals present in the fat cells hinder the action of insulin and also put excess pressure on the heart to pump blood. Another significant benefit of losing weight naturally is that it helps reduce the fat cells in the body and decrease the risk of developing diabetes or blood pressure. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Are bariatric surgeries reversible?

A. Most bariatric surgeries are irreversible except for gastric banding, where your surgeon can repeatedly adjust or remove the band from your stomach, if required.

Q. Can I reduce weight through workouts or diets?

A. Yes, you can lose a good amount of weight by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy diet.

Q. Who cannot undergo bariatric surgery?

A. A person with severe pre-existing medical conditions or with a BMI of less than 35 may not qualify for this procedure. 

Q. Is there any age limit for this surgery?

A. Generally, bariatric surgery is performed for people in the age group of 18-65 years. Anyone below 18 or above 65 may not be able to undergo this surgery.

Q. Is bariatric surgery a safe procedure?

A. It is a safe procedure but may possess a few health risks that you may need to consider.

About the Author

I, Dr. Poonam have 3+ years of experience in the field of Medicine. Currently serving as a Resident Physician at HealthifyMe, I have worked with premier hospitals such as Manipal Hospital, Bangalore as a Resident in Plastic and Reconstructive surgery and Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital, Chennai as a Medical Officer. I aspire to put my knowledge in medicine to use in providing healthcare and fitness services to people and help enhance my abilities in meeting the ever-growing healthcare needs.

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