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Facts about weight loss surgery

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Ideally, we would all lose weight using a healthy diet and exercise.  For some of us, diet and exercise isn’t enough.  Once all other options are ruled out, it might be time for surgery.  All surgeries come with benefits and risks.  Take time to learn as much as you can about each of the procedures, before you go under the knife.  Here are some facts about weight loss surgery to get you started in your research.

Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery changes the anatomy of your stomach and digestive system.  Each method reduces the size of the working stomach.  You become fuller, faster.

There are four common bariatric surgery options:

  • Adjustable Gastric Band (AGB) uses a band placed around the top of your stomach, and creates a small stomach pouch.  This small stomach pouch allows you to feel fuller faster.  The band can be adjusted to be tighter or looser by the surgeon, by adding or removing saline through a small port under your skin.  This is the only bariatric procedure that could possibly be reversed.
  • Gastric Bypass creates a small stomach pouch at the top of your stomach, closes off the rest of the stomach, and attaches the small intestine.  
  • Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) removes all but a “sleeve” of your stomach.
  • Biliopancreatic diversion with a Duodenal Switch (BPD-DS) is similar to VSG, but bypasses 75 percent of the small intestine.  
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Benefits / Risks / Considerations

According to the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) , “Studies find that more than 90 percent of bariatric patients are able to maintain a long-term weight loss of 50 percent excess body weight or more.”  Besides rapid weight loss for up to 36 months, other benefits that can be seen are:

  • Improved health in obesity related conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and sleep apnea.  
  • Hormonal changes that reduce the sense of hunger are possible.
  • Increasing physical activity become easier, since it becomes easier to move with less weight.

Some of the risks and side effects of bariatric surgery are infection, bleeding, leaking from intestine incision sites, blood clots, not being able to absorb enough nutrients, and more.

Other considerations are:

  • Your lifestyle will change, as will your relationship with food.
  • Costs for this type of surgery can be quite high.  Medical insurance may possibly cover the costs, if you also suffer from an obesity related condition.
  • You can expect long-term benefits AND long term commitment.  Make sure you like and trust your surgeon.  You will need to be monitored for the rest of your life, to make sure you remain healthy.  

Liposuction

Perhaps you have already reached your healthy weight range, and have been able to maintain it “ but you still have stubborn pockets of fat, that diet and exercise won’t budge.

Liposuction (Lipo), is a surgical procedure that uses small incisions, to insert a long, thin cannula through the skin, and into the fatty layer, to remove fat with high pressure suction.  Depending on the areas you have done, lipo procedures take between 90-minutes to three hours.  

Benefits / Risks / Considerations

Lipo is not a cure for obesity, and is not meant to significantly reduce weight.  But, it is an option to smooth some of your most stubborn pockets of fat, like:

  • Jaw
  • Cheeks
  • Chin
  • Back
  • Upper arms
  • Tummy
  • Hips
  • Love handles

Right after the surgery, you will have to take it easy.  Light movement is encouraged, but full recovery takes several weeks.

Liposuction is a serious surgical procedure.  Like all surgery, there are risks.  Make sure you do research on the surgeon and clinic you choose.  Talk with your surgeon.  Make sure you know what to expect.