There are several weight loss surgery options for men and women interested in losing weight, but not all weight loss procedures are the same. Although they all involve surgery, the options work by limiting the amount of food of consumption at one time, or by altering the body’s ability to absorb food, preventing the patient from storing excess calories as fat. Both options are available for men and women who have tried other weight-loss methods, unsuccessfully.
The end goal of all weight loss surgery options is to help people lose weight. Although different weight loss surgery options work in different ways, they all aim to accomplish results limiting the effective intake of calories, forcing the body to mobilize its own stores of fat to meet energy needs. These options are for people who are overweight and obese, who want to lose a lot of weight.
What Is Weight Loss Surgery Options?
Let’s begin our discussion of the different weight loss surgery options with a definition of weight loss surgery. Weight loss or “bariatric” surgery refers to surgical procedures enabling weight loss in a patient to help reduce the risk of medical complications associated with obesity.
While weight loss surgery can help to relieve and often prevent problems like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which come with a host of complications, it is important to understand that any major weight-loss procedure is just that, a procedure. It is major surgery and involves going under the knife.
During the initial consultation, doctors will emphasize the importance of trying other weight-loss techniques, such as diet changes and exercise, before considering weight loss surgery.
What Surgeons Look for in Potential Weight Loss Surgery Patients
Most surgeons will not give the go-ahead for surgery for a patient who has not attempted lifestyle changes before going under the knife. A lifestyle change represents both the patient’s commitment to weight loss and their understanding that weight loss surgery can fail if they cannot commit to change.
This might come as a surprise to some, but weight loss surgery, though effective in causing quick and steady weight loss, can have limited success. Patients unable to commit to eating less and engaging in physical activity can override what surgery options can do to enable weight loss. This means that men and women who do not stick to the doctor’s lifestyle recommendations may lose weight more slowly, or may experience serious complications from the surgery.
Describe Primary Weight Loss Surgery Options
We mentioned in passing that weight loss surgery options fall into two general types, but we will delve more deeply into the distinction here. So what exactly are the two main types of weight loss surgery options? These types are:
- Malabsorptive surgery aims to reduce the length of the small intestine to restrict the surface area available for nutrient absorption.
- Restrictive surgery aims to limit the amount of food a patient can consume at one sitting, usually by making the stomach smaller with surgical recision or banding.
Both surgery options are effective in causing dramatic weight loss in the men and women who undergo them, but, as mentioned, patients have to be active participants in their medical treatments. It is the job of the surgeon and medical team to help patients achieve the best results from their surgical journeys, but the patient also has to stick to the doctor’s recommendations to achieve the best results from their procedure, and to avoid any complications.
Who is a Good Candidate for Weight Loss Surgery?
Although your surgeon will help you figure out if you are a good candidate for weight loss surgery, there are several factors that impact who will reap the most benefits, and which surgical option is right for them. In a later section, we will look at surgical options that might be best for those considering bariatric surgery, but now we will look at factors that can influence who might represent the best candidate for weight loss surgery. These factors include:
This is a short list of what you need to think about when considering whether weight loss surgery is right for you, or which surgery to choose. In reality, there are many more factors we have not mentioned here, due to the differences in surgical options available. Note that some weight loss surgeries are reversible while many are not, and some surgeries may lead to greater complications, while others are less risky.
All weight loss surgery requires lifestyle changes, and some options require more change than others.
The Different Options
There are four main weight loss surgery options that work by impacting weight through either malabsorption or restriction means. The major weight loss surgery options are:
Sleeve gastrectomy falls into the restrictive class of weight loss surgery options. This procedure involves separating out a portion of the stomach and taking it out of the body permanently. The smaller stomach limits the amount of food a patient can consume at one time, and that prevents the post-surgery patient from overeating. This procedure does not impact food absorption although it may lead to reduced appetite due to reduced release of the hormone ghrelin.
Duodenal switch with biliopancreatic diversion
This tongue-twister of a procedure bears a resemblance to Sleeve gastrectomy (discussed above). This procedure begins with a major portion of the stomach being removed. It alters the small intestine, with the middle section of the small intestine separated, thus directly connecting the first and second part of the small intestine together.
The surgeon keeps the middle portion of the small intestine intact but reforms the end of the intestine, allowing pancreatic juices and bile to collect there. This procedure, “biliopancreatic diversion,” leads to both restriction of calories and malabsorption, by reducing the size of the small intestine.
Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding
This is a gastric banding procedure, which many people may be familiar with from media coverage describing it as one of the “least invasive” weight loss surgery options. The procedure reduces the size of the stomach by placing a band across the upper portion, laparoscopically. Attached to the band is a balloon which the surgeon can inflate or deflate, causing a change in the size of the band.
The gastric band creates a small pouch above where the band sits which becomes, essentially, a smaller-size stomach. This surgery creates a port in the abdomen that allows control of the size of the band by injecting fluid into it.
Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
Gastric bypass is the other buzzword in today’s weight loss surgery options. This procedure involves the surgical creation of a small stomach pouch which the surgeon connects to the small intestine. The pouch is the only area that can receive food and is much smaller than the pre-existing stomach. After undergoing this technique, the pouch stomach can hold an ounce of food, when a normal stomach holds approximately 3 pints.
The remaining portion of the patient’s stomach stays intact, it continues to make gastric juices, and it is now further down on the intestine. This complex surgery achieves results through restriction and malabsorption as the area of intestine for absorption is smaller.
How to Pick the Right Weight Loss Surgery for You
This review of bariatric surgery procedures should leave you with the impression that weight loss options are major surgery and potential patients should consider them only after trying many other methods of weight loss. In fact, some surgeons consider these surgeries to be among the most complicated of surgeries, and they are not for people who do not intend to stick to a healthy lifestyle.
After considering how much weight you want (or need) to lose, other things important to consider when trying to choose the right surgery, are whether you want a permanently reduced stomach or intestine, or one that uses a band to create a smaller stomach. Are you willing to undergo a riskier procedure, or will you insist on one with fewer potential complications?
Weight loss surgery options are available for men and women who have tried changes in diet and exercise, but still have a lot of pounds to lose. Not all available options are the same, so the potential weight loss surgery candidate needs to think about which procedure best matches their needs in terms of how much weight they need to lose, whether they can commit to eating less, and whether they want a permanent surgical option.