Weight loss surgery seems to be gaining popularity around the world. As obesity rates continue to skyrocket, more people are looking for ways to shed the pounds for good. Thankfully, weight loss surgery is the most effective treatment for obesity. There are five popular types of weight loss surgery options, which either work by restricting food intake, absorbing fewer calories or both. Choosing the best option for you requires a discussion with your doctor and some research into each procedure. There are five popular weight loss surgery options, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Restrictive vs. Malabsorptive
Before we get into the five popular weight loss surgery options, let’s first discuss how these procedures work at a basic level. Weight loss surgery works by either restriction or malabsorption, or both. A restrictive procedure means the stomach is made smaller so that it restricts the amount of food you can consume at one time. Therefore, you’ll eat less and have a calorie deficit to lose weight. A malabsorptive procedure means that the digestive system is altered so that you absorb fewer calories. Therefore, you lose weight because some of the calories you are ingesting doesn’t get absorbed by your body.
Some procedures can work both ways. This means the stomach will be created smaller, and the digestive tract will be altered. The combination of these two surgical options can result in a greater loss of weight, but you have to be careful. With these weight loss surgery options, you’re at a greater risk of nutrient deficiency. You’ll have to take vitamins for the rest of your life to make up for this deficiency. You’ll also need to get regular blood work to make sure you aren’t deficient in one particular area. All of the procedures require you to complete pre-op consults and testing.
The most popular type of weight loss surgery options seems to be gastric bypass. Sometimes called Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB or RNY), It’s considered the premier operation. This procedure is both restrictive and malabsorptive. The stomach is stapled to a small pouch that can only hold a very small amount of food. The small bowel is then connected to this pouch, bypassing the duodenum. By bypassing the duodenum, the body absorbs fewer calories.
With this procedure, you can expect to lose 75 to 80 percent of your excess body weight. It’s a permanent procedure, meaning it cannot be reversed. Good candidates for this type of surgery are people who are 18 to 65 years of age with a minimum body mass index (BMI) of 40 or a BMI of 35 with more than two obesity-related diseases. You’ll stay in the hospital for two to three days and be out of work for two to three weeks. This procedure can be done laparoscopically through small incisions or as open surgery with a larger incision in your abdomen.
Another one of the weight loss surgery options is the gastric sleeve procedure. It seems to be gaining popularity and is sometimes called a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG). This procedure is restrictive. The surgeon cuts the stomach to 15 percent of its original size. Think of your stomach as the size of a football, with a gastric sleeve procedure, the stomach becomes the size of a banana. The stomach is shaped into a tube or sleeve shape. Hunger decreases because not only is the stomach smaller, but the surgeon removes the hormones that cause hunger. You can expect to lose 75 to 80 percent of your excess body weight with a gastric sleeve. This procedure is the one I had done, and I’ve lost 89 percent of my excess weight.
The gastric sleeve procedure does not alter the gastrointestinal tract and does not need adjustment. It is a permanent procedure. Good candidates for a gastric sleeve are those patients aged 18 to 65 years old with a minimum BMI of 40 or a BMI of 35 with two or more obesity-related conditions. Higher-risk patients are also good candidates for the sleeve. You can expect to be in the hospital for one day and off work for one to three weeks. This procedure can be done laparoscopically.
The third type of popular weight loss surgery options is the gastric balloon. An inflatable balloon is placed in the stomach via an endoscope. When the balloon is inflated in the stomach, it takes up space, allowing you to feel fuller quicker and longer. This procedure is restrictive, as it restricts the amount of food you can eat. The balloon stays in your stomach for six months and you can expect to lose 25 to 33 percent of your excess weight.
This procedure does not require an incision, but you’ll still need anesthesia to have it placed. It has become an increasingly popular procedure because it is not permanent, it’s safe, easy to perform, and your organs are not changed. It is an outpatient procedure, and you can return to work in a few days. After the balloon is removed, some, but not all, patients are able to maintain their weight loss. With all the weight loss surgery options, you’ll have to be diligent about maintaining the lifestyle changes necessary, but especially with the gastric balloon.
The fourth type of weight loss surgery options is the gastric band. The gastric band is still popular, but the popularity seems to be decreasing. My surgeon told me that he takes more bands out than he puts in because of complications, and weight loss is slower than expected. This procedure is restrictive, as a silicone band is placed around the upper part of the stomach, creating a smaller pouch. After 30 days, the band is filled with saline using a port under the skin. Finding the right band fill can take a few tries, as you should feel full and comfortable most of the time. You can expect to lose 50 to 60 percent of your excess body weight with a gastric band.
Good candidates for the gastric band are those patients aged 18 to 65 with a lower BMI. It’s good for people who have had success with diets in the past. It’s also less invasive and a lower risk surgery, but weight loss is slower. This procedure is an outpatient procedure with anesthesia, and you can generally return to work within a few days. It is not permanent and can be removed. You may need to see a doctor more often with the procedure though for the adjustments.
Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch
The fifth and final type of popular weight loss surgery options is the biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch. This is a two-part procedure and is a permanent gastrointestinal change. First, a gastric sleeve procedure is performed to restrict the amount of food you can eat. Second, food is rerouted from the upper part of the lower intestines to further down at the bottom part of the lower intestines. This leads to less calorie absorption. One end of the small intestines is then connected to the duodenum. Digestion then occurs further down to absorb fewer calories.
Patients can expect to lose 60 to 70 percent of their excess weight with this procedure. It’s also a good option for patients with diabetes, as it controls blood sugar better than the other types of weight loss surgery options. This surgery is also good for someone with a higher BMI of 50, or one with a BMI of 40 with at least two obesity-related conditions. The procedure can be done laparoscopically. You’ll be in the hospital for two to three days, and off work for two to three weeks.
Choosing the Best Weight Loss Surgery Option For You
All five of these weight loss surgery options come with their own benefits and risks. With all of them, you have to commit to changing your lifestyle habits, including what you eat, how much you exercise, and managing your stress. You’ll also need to supplement with vitamins for the rest of your life and possibly avoid certain foods altogether. The decision of which surgery is right for you depends on several factors, including your age, overall health, BMI and how much weight you have to lose. You should carefully weigh all of your options and discuss with your surgeon which one would be best for you.
For me, I originally choose gastric bypass because I was over 400 pounds, and I thought the procedure would be more restrictive, forcing me to stay on my lifestyle changes. I also heard it helped with acid reflux more than the other options, from which I suffered. However, at my pre-op appointment with my doctor, I told him if that for some reason he couldn’t perform a gastric bypass, I wanted him to switch to a gastric sleeve. I wasn’t about to do all the work of the liver shrinking diet and not get my bariatric surgery. Thankfully, I did this because when my surgeon went to move my intestine up to the new pouch, there wasn’t enough give in them. He didn’t feel comfortable stretching them so far, so he converted to the gastric sleeve. I’m super happy with my results (235 pounds gone forever!).
Make the Decision to Change Your Life
Now that you know the five most popular weight loss surgery procedures, you can start to think about what option may be best for you. Weight loss surgery is life-changing in so many ways, but it’s worth all the hassle and trouble. Your doctor may recommend a procedure based on your unique situation, but the choice is ultimately yours. I know some of the procedures sound scary, but they can help you finally lose the weight for good. There are five popular weight loss surgery options, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks.
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There are five main types of weight loss surgery. They are the gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, gastric balloon, gastric band, and the biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch.