Are you thinking about undergoing weight loss surgery? You should first do research on what this serious type of operation involves, its benefits, risks and the long-term changes you may have to make after undergoing it. The information you get from your research will help you determine whether weight loss surgery is right for you.
How Does Weight Loss Surgery Work?
There are different types of surgery, which include the following:
- Gastric bypass: The surgeon only leaves a pouch, which is a tiny part of your stomach. The pouch can only hold little food, making you eat less.
- Gastric band: The surgeon fits a band around your stomach’s upper part. A small balloon inside the band controls its tightness or looseness. The band limits the amount of food that goes into your stomach, making you feel full much quicker.
- Gastric sleeve: This weight loss surgery removes about 80% of the stomach leaving a narrow section of the upper part. It reduces the amount of ghrelin, the hunger hormone. As a result, you eat less.
- Duodenal switch: This procedure makes the stomach smaller by removing about 85% of it and forming a sleeve that bypasses most of the small intestine. It reduces the amount of food you consume. It also lowers the chances of your body absorbing nutrients from the food you eat. This means you may not get enough vitamins and minerals.
What are the Benefits of Surgery?
Some of the benefits of having weight loss surgery include:
- Significant weight loss
- It improves conditions brought about or worsened by obesity, such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and sleep apnea.
- More happiness: Studies have found that the weight loss from surgery boosts self-esteem, social relations, work, and sexual function.
- Longer life: Various studies have shown that people who have undergone weight loss surgery have a much lower risk of death than people who haven’t.
What are the Risks Associated with Weight Loss Surgery?
Just like any other surgery, weight loss surgery carries some risk. Some of the side effects commonly associated with it include increased gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and excessive sweating.
Severe effects include infection, bleeding, leaks from the stitches and blood clots in the legs, which can move to the lungs and heart. Only a few people experience these.
Rapid weight loss after the surgery can cause the formation of gallstones. Your doctor may prescribe supplemental bile salts for the first six months after your surgery to help avoid them.
A common long-term effect, especially among people who’ve had gastric bypass surgery, is dumping syndrome. The food you consume moves through your small intestine too quickly. Its symptoms include weakness, faintness, nausea, diarrhea, and feeling dreadfully weak after eating sweets. Up to half of those who undergo weight loss surgery can experience it. Altering your diet by replacing high-sugar foods with high-fiber ones can help prevent it.
Women who undergo surgery are required to avoid pregnancy for some time because the nutritional deficiencies and fast weight loss can harm developing babies.
What Happens After the Surgery?
For most people, the average stay at the hospital is one to three days. Most patients resume work within two weeks. Your doctor will determine the exact length of time.
You’ll be required to attend follow-up appointments that may run across one year or more. These appointments are crucial because they’ll help you change your former eating habits and lifestyle. You’ll also get advice on the supplements that will give you the necessary nutrients and energy.
Remember, you’ll never be able to eat as you did before the operation. You’ll feel full after eating small amounts of food, take much longer to eat and will have to chew your food thoroughly. Eating too much may result in discomfort and vomiting.
Are You a Candidate?
Now that you have basic information on the surgical procedure, its effects, and the lifestyle changes you have to commit to, you are in a better position to decide if weight loss surgery is ideal for you. Your doctor will also consider several factors to determine if you should have the surgery. He or she is likely to consider you a candidate if you satisfy the following:
- You have been unsuccessful in trying to lose weight through other means. Weight loss surgery should be a last resort.
- You are above 18 years. Teens can only have surgery if they’re exceptionally obese and have an obesity-related condition and a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35.
- You are morbidly obese with a BMI of 40 and above.
- You have a BMI of 35 to 39 and suffer from a weight-related health condition.
- You aren’t drug or alcohol dependent.
- You are aware of the risks and benefits of surgery and are ready to make diet and lifestyle changes afterwards to maintain a healthy weight.
Remember, weight loss surgery is not a shortcut to weight loss. You’ll still need to focus on healthy eating and exercising regularly after recovering from it.