Weight Loss Surgery - What Is It?
By Kirsty at RealSelf on 11 Apr 2012
If you are thinking of pursuing the option of weight loss surgery, it is sometimes a scary surgery to think about without all the proper facts. The following article will set out to explain the three main types of weight loss surgery and how they each work to help you lose weight.
Gastric Bypass Surgery:
A gastric bypass is generally used as a surgical treatment for patients suffering from morbid obesity. Typically this means a patient is unable to lose weight, as a result of a medical condition or an unhealthy lifestyle, and their weight has become a quality of life issue requiring medical attention, as further weight gain could result in the person’s death.
In this technique the surgeon makes a few laparoscopic incisions into the patient’s abdomen, whereby a small camera is used to view the stomach and small intestine areas. There are additional incisions made that allow surgical tools to be inserted and used in relation to the camera’s viewpoint. Using only small incisions helps with healing time and reduces the risk of the surgery.
The procedure shrinks the size of the stomach by about 90%, dividing the stomach into an upper stomach and bypassing the remaining stomach to enable drainage. The small intestine is also reduced in size to make sure that the amount of fats and calories absorbed from food is restricted. This does, however, mean the intake of nutrients from food is also restricted and you will need to take some type of vitamin for the rest of your life.
Essentially, a gastric bypass permanently shrinks the stomach and small intestine, enabling a person to feel full from far less food and restricting the absorption of fats and calories from food.
Lap Band Surgery:
This surgery is typically used for less severe cases of obesity and works somewhat similar to a Gastric Bypass, only it is reversible.
Small laparoscopic incisions are made for a camera and surgical tools, and an inflatable band is placed around the stomach, effectively dividing it up. There is no need to shorten the intestine for this as the band can be adjusted by adding or removing liquid. This ensures a person is receiving the correct amount of nutrients while also making sure the stomach is never overeating.
The band means that the stomach will fill with food much more quickly, leaving a person satisfied and feeling full after just very small meals. The band can be adjusted and even taken off after the person has reached a healthy weight, although it is meant to be a permanent solution.
Gastric Sleeve surgery:
This type of surgery can be used as a stand-alone surgery, meaning that this is the only type of surgery the patient will have. However, some obese patients have a lot of weight to lose, combined with co-morbidities such as diabetes, breathing problems, etc. For these patients, gastric sleeve surgery can be carried out more quickly and safely than gastric bypass surgery. Once the patient has lot a certain amount of weight, they may then be given a final gastric bypass surgery.
Gastric Sleeve surgery is permanent like a Gastric Bypass and involves fully removing a portion of the stomach. By reducing the size of the stomach a patient is left with a banana-shaped, sleeve-like stomach, which will reduce the amount of food that it takes to feel full.
Working on the same principal of reducing food intake, this surgery does not involve an intestinal bypass and as long as the stomach heals well, there are less complications of bowel obstruction, which are associated with a gastric bypass as a result of the modifications made to the small intestine. You may still need to take some form of vitamin pill after having gastric sleeve surgery.
Looking into the options before choosing a weight loss surgery is very important. You should ensure you speak to your doctor about all the options available and what will work best for you.
Have questions? Ask on the bariatric doctor forum.