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Surgical Weight Loss Basics: What You Need to Know to Make the Decision

Before and After BMI

July 30, 2014

Surgical Weight Loss Basics: What You Need to Know to Make the Decision

Bariatric surgery, or weight loss surgery, is used to modify the digestive process and kick-start weight loss, and it’s proven to be very successful as a long-term weight loss plan. Making the decision to choose surgical weight loss can be daunting though, so how do you know that it’s right for you?

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Is Weight Loss Surgery Right for Me?

To qualify for surgical weight loss, your body mass index needs to be over a certain level and have failed to lose weight previously, no matter what changes to your diet and exercise regime you implemented. Not sure if you’re classified for weight loss surgery? If your BMI is 40 or higher, or 35-39.9 with accompanying obesity related health issues, you may be a suitable candidate for bariatric surgery.

It’s not only physical factors that determine whether weight loss surgery is right for you, the right mindset is absolutely crucial for surgical weight loss patients. You need to be committed to maintaining a healthy lifestyle following the surgery, as the surgery is a tool that starts your weight loss journey. You’ll need to change your lifestyle to fully take advantage of the benefits of bariatric surgery, and must be prepared to follow your surgeon’s instructions relating to exercise, diet and follow up maintenance.

Once you’ve decided that weight loss surgery is the right route for your weight loss journey, and you’ve taken surgical advice, it’s time to decide which type of surgery to go for. The decision is completely up to you, but common factors in choosing between bariatric surgeries include the amount and timing of weight loss.

Which Type of Weight Loss Surgery is Right for Me?

Sleeve Gastrectomy

The sleeve gastrectomy, or gastric sleeve, involves removing part of the stomach, reducing the amount of food that can be eaten and altering the pathways that control hunger. Patients can expect up to 65% weight loss over a period of 12 months. Health problems associated with obesity also improve, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and sleep apnea.  There is no re-routing of the intestines like the gastric bypass so the dumping syndrome, which occurs when sugar is consumed, usually is not present.

Gastric Bypass

A gastric bypass is often the most successful weight loss surgery, with up to 70% weight loss over a period of 9 months. During the surgery a small pouch is created within the stomach, and the intestines re-routed to carry food directly to the pouch, meaning only small amounts of food can be eaten. Other benefits of the surgery are that it can cure type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, although a gastric bypass is the only type of bariatric surgery that can cause dumping syndrome. Dumping syndrome has helped many patients avoid sugar to prevent the symptoms that come with dumping syndrome, and allows them to lose more weight.

Adjustable Gastric Banding

Gastric banding is the shortest type of weight loss surgery, taking on average only 30 minutes, but the results aren’t as immediate as a gastric or sleeve gastrectomy, with up to 50% weight loss which can take up to 36 months. This is because a laparoscopic band (LAP-BAND) is fitted around the upper stomach during the surgery to create a food ‘pouch’ and the LAP-BAND has to be adjusted regularly to gradually decrease the amount of food that can be ingested.  Gastric banding can improve type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure with the weight loss. Although gastric banding is seen by some as a ‘slower’ route to weight loss than other types of weight loss surgery, when using it as a tool it can provide weight loss and health success.

Surgical weight loss is an important thing to make a decision on, but the results are dramatic and long-lasting. As long as you follow the advice of your surgical team, you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ve chosen the right surgery for your needs.

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