Bariatric Surgery

ImageWhen diets fail, there are the controversial stomach-stapling surgeries to fall back on. While the occurrences of this last-resort alternative were few and far between more than a decade ago, they' have become more and more commonplace.

In fact, it is estimated that more than 175,000 patients will go through gastric bypass and gastric bands in 2007.

It is important to know that bariatric surgery is not for the individual struggling with an extra 20 pounds. Patients of the surgery must be deemed morbidly obese - more than 100 pounds overweight. Because obesity puts men and women at risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other deadly diseases, the surgery can literally save a person's life when they have tried every diet under the sun and still continue to struggle from obesity-related illnesses.

In order to be considered for bariatric surgery, you should have a body mass index of 40 or higher. Or your BMI should be between 35 to 39.9, and you should be suffering from weight-related issues like diabetes or high blood pressure. It is important to note that even with gastric bypass surgery you still have to follow a healthy eating regimen and engage in regular exercise -- the success of your surgery depends on it.

Prior to getting approval for gastric bypass surgery, patients must meet with a team of doctor including a physician, dietitian, psychologist and a surgeon to determine if they are good candidates for the surgery.

There are mainly two divisions of weight loss surgery: restriction operations and gastric bypass operations. With restriction operations (gastric banding and vertical banded gastroplasty), food intake is restricted by creating a small pouch at the top of the stomach where the food enters from the esophagus.

ImageIn the beginning, the pouch holds one ounce of food, eventually expanding to two to three ounces in time. The pouch's lower outlet generally has a diameter of about 1/4 inch. The small outlet delays the emptying of food from the pouch and causes a feeling of fullness.

Gastric bypass operations create a small stomach pouch to restrict food intake and construct bypasses of the duodenum and other segments of the small intestine to cause malabsorption, leading to weight loss. Numerous obesity clinics prefer to do Lap Band adjustable gastric banding and the Promixal Roux-en-Y.

Most people lose weight rapidly for 18 to 24 months after the surgery. As they lose the extra pounds, the obesity-related conditions improve. For an estimated 12 weeks, you'll be on a specialized diet, beginning with a liquid-only meal plan. You'll work up to solids and regular food. However, you will still need to eat small meals throughout the day as eating too much an lead to ramifications.

There are some serious risks when trying to lose weight by reconstructing the stomach. For starters, many people suffer from vomiting if food is not chewed up into small enough pieces. There's also "dumping syndrome" where stomach contents move too quickly through the small intestine, causing nausea, weakness, sweating, faintness, and diarrhea.

And that's not all. Ten to 20 percent of individuals who undergo weight-loss surgeries must undergo another procedure to correct complications. More than half the patients who undergo the surgery suffer from gallstones, while 30 percent of patients develop nutritional deficiencies including anemia, osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease.

Within the first two years of surgery, patients can expect to lose 50 to 60 percent of the excess weight if they do what they're supposed to.