Bariatric surgery requires patients to make a lifelong commitment to changing the way they consume food. Going through with the surgery requires careful consideration because the various procedures alter the body’s ability to absorb calories. Stomach and small intestine reconfiguration restricts the amount of food the patient can consume before feeling full.
Adjustable gastric band surgery is the least invasive of these procedures. The surgeon places a band around the stomach, limiting its capacity to approximately one ounce. Normally, the stomach can hold three pints. The surgeon can inject saline to make the band tighter or looser.
Gastric bypass involves stapling some of the stomach together to create a pouch with a capacity to hold one cup of food. The surgeon separates the stomach from the duodenum and reattaches it to a different place on the small intestine. Bypassing the duodenum restricts calorie absorption.
Duodenal switch surgery is the most involved and is irreversible because portions of the stomach are removed completely to make the food pouch more compact. The risks of developing complications are the highest after this procedure. This surgery requires a more intense reconfiguration of the intestines to allow food to pass through only a short portion of the small intestines before reaching the large intestines. Because this procedure changes how the body absorbs nutrients, patients must begin a lifelong habit of supplementing the diet with essential minerals and vitamins.
Vertical sleeve gastrectomy is another procedure involving removing stomach tissue. The thin sleeve that remains connects the esophagus to the beginning portion of the small intestines. Patients are unable to eat as much after surgery and have lower levels of ghrelin, the hormone that triggers appetite.
All bariatric surgery procedures require lifelong lifestyle choices that patients must commit to if they want to keep the weight off over the long term. It can be difficult getting used to chewing food carefully and eating smaller meals. Many patients will be under a physician’s care forever to monitor progress and make sure they are receiving the proper nutrition. Adopting a healthy diet and a rigorous exercise program are critical for keeping the weight off for good.
Individuals who had obesity related illnesses before the surgery will often see dramatic improvement in health after the procedure. They are at lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and severe sleep apnea. Surgery alone does produce short-term weight loss but patients must make healthy lifestyle choices about exercise and diet to enjoy long-term success with this type of weight loss program.