What Is Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric surgery, which includes lap band and gastric bypass, alters your digestive system to reduce the number of calories you can ingest or by inhibiting nutrient absorption. Patients can typically expect to lose around 60 percent of their excess body fat a year after surgery, or about 80 pounds.
Depending on your case, doctors usually perform the following procedures:
- Gastric Bypass
- In this procedure, the surgeon cuts across the top of your stomach to create a much smaller pouch (about the size of a walnut). The new pouch is then connected to the small intestine. The pouch only holds about an ounce of food rather than three pints of food a normal stomach can hold. This procedure helps you feel full faster and restricts the amount of nutrients you can absorb.
- Lap Band
- Called laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB), this procedure limits the amount of food you can ingest. During the procedure, the surgeon places an inflatable band around the top portion of the stomach. After the band inflates, it acts as belts tightening around the stomach, separating it into two parts. The surgeon can adjust the band to allow more or less food to enter. Lap Band is the simplest surgical option for weight loss.
- Sleeve Gastrectomy
- During the sleeve gastrectomy for weight loss, the stomach is stapled and the remaining area is removed, leaving a smaller stomach size that limits the amount of food you can eat at one time. In turn, a sleeve gastrectomy helps patients lose weight and keep it off long-term.
Other bariatric surgeries are variations of gastric bypass, which all require making the stomach smaller and connecting the new pouch to the intestines in different areas.
Why Should I Consider Bariatric Surgery?
You might choose bariatric surgery if you’ve struggled with severe obesity and can’t keep your weight down with diet and exercise alone. If you have the following health conditions, bariatric surgery could be your best option:
- GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Severe sleep apnea
Who Is a Candidate for Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric surgery is not for everyone. You must meet strict criteria to qualify for weight-loss surgery and have accompanying health problems due to obesity. Candidates for bariatric surgery should meet most or all of the following criteria:
- Have a body mass index (BMI) over 40
- Have a BMI of 35 to 39.5 with accompanying life-threatening health problems like Type 2 diabetes, severe sleep apnea, and high blood pressure
- Are interested in making permanent changes to have a more healthy lifestyle
What’s the Recovery Process for Bariatric Surgery?
You’ll typically stay in the hospital for about three days after bariatric surgery. You won’t be allowed to eat for most of your hospital stay to allow your stomach to fully heal. After you get home, you’ll follow a strict diet for about three months. The diet starts as liquid, then soft or ground food, finally moving on to solid food. You may have further restrictions on the types of food and drink you’re allowed.