Bariatric surgery is a set of procedures designed to combat obesity in adult patients.
This type of procedure is often undertaken by individuals who have struggled with excessive mass and are unable to achieve or sustain a healthy body weight. If you are interested in learning more about any of the potential bariatric procedures and their effects, request a consultation with Dr. Hérve Gentile in Corpus Christi, Texas to discover all the available options.
What is Bariatric Surgery?
The various types of bariatric procedures are designed to induce weight loss in one of two ways. The first is to limit the amount of room in the stomach for food; the second causes a condition called malabsorption, wherein certain nutrients cannot be properly absorbed by the body during the digestive process. Either of these methods – or a combination of the two – alters the way food is metabolized and stimulates weight loss in the individual.
Types of Bariatric Surgery
There are multiple approaches when it comes to bariatric surgery, each designed to address the individual’s specific physical issues and desired outcome. The most common techniques, listed below, vary in terms of their respective benefits and drawbacks and are tailored to fit each person’s own situation.
The adjustable laparoscopic gastric band, also known as the lap-band, is a small inflatable pouch made of silicon. During the procedure the doctor will create a minor incision near the navel to insert a laparoscopic camera into the stomach, and then several additional small incisions through which he will introduce the band into the abdomen. The gastric band is placed around the top of the stomach and adjusted according to the patient’s internal physical features.
The gastric band placement surgery is recommended for patients suffering from obesity with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher.
Gastric bypass surgery is the most common kind of bariatric procedure. Newer technology allows the surgeon to perform it with minimal incisions by the laparoscopic technique. Unlike the lap-band, gastric bypass surgery limits the capacity of the stomach without introducing a foreign material into the patient’s body. There are several different kinds of gastric bypass that the doctor will choose between depending on the particular circumstances.
The surgery essentially divides the upper stomach into two separate compartments, followed by reconnecting the small intestine to both sections. The division can be done by either placing a sort of “wall” between the two desired segments, or by splitting them apart completely. This method decreases the size of meals consumed by the individual, and somewhat reduces the absorption of calories and some other nutrients into the body. In the long run, gastric bypass retrains the hormones in order to promote fullness and curb the feeling of hunger. Experts say this surgery has dramatic long-term effects and could bring about the loss of up to 80% of a patient’s extra poundage.
The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy method actually removes a part of the stomach, reducing the remaining organ to about 15-20% of its original size. It was initially used in conjunction with gastric bypass surgery in cases of severe obesity where the risk of morbidity was considered significantly higher than most. It is now becoming more and more popular among surgeons addressing morbid obesity.
Biliopancreatic diversion (BPD) or biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (BPD/DS) likewise functions by reducing the size of the stomach, then reattaching the small intestine to the newly reduced organ. It is reconnected in such a way that a large portion of it is circumvented; this way food empties directly from the new stomach tube into the last quarter of the small intestine.
Unlike the previous procedures, BPD/DS allows patients to eat as much as they like. But because whatever food is consumed bypasses a majority of the small intestine, where enzymes and bile would normally break down the meal, the amount of nutrients and calories absorbed by the body is radically lowered.
Candidates for Surgery
Bariatric surgery is known to be the most effective method for weight loss in morbidly obese patients. However, that does not mean this set of procedures is the right choice for everyone. During your consultation, Dr. Gentile can help you decide whether you are a good candidate for one of these procedures.
Bariatric surgery may be a fantastic option for patients who suffer from one or more of the following:
- Obesity (BMI of 35 or higher)
- Morbid obesity (BMI of 40 or higher)
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea as a result of obesity
Massive weight loss surgery is not a substitute for exercise and a good diet; however, it can be a good choice for patients who have unsuccessfully tried these methods for weight loss. In some limited cases, bariatric surgery can be performed on people with a BMI of 30-34 if their health is in jeopardy. Prospective patients should also be of sound mind and have reasonable expectations as far as the procedure’s results. Substance abuse and mental health conditions may preclude people from such operations. Surgery is not recommended for people younger than 18, and risks tend to increase with advanced age as well.
Other health factors that may disqualify patients from undergoing weight loss surgery include:
- Heart conditions
- Blood clots
- Liver disease
- Kidney stones
- Certain medications
- Smoking and alcohol habits
- Binge-eating disorder
Your candidacy for bariatric surgery and the type of bariatric surgery recommended for your specific situation will be discussed during your initial consultation. Dr. Hérve Gentile will evaluate your health, medical history, and current condition to assess whether he can proceed with one of these methods, and answer all of your questions and concerns regarding the procedure. Be sure to disclose any medical conditions, current medications and health habits to ensure your own safety, as bariatric surgery is a major and life-changing decision that should not be decided upon lightly.
Preparing for Bariatric Surgery
Once the procedure is scheduled, there are certain steps the patient needs to undertake in advance to provide the lowest risk and best possible results.
Patients who are better prepared will have less danger of complication during and after surgery, and are likely to lose more weight down the road according to studies.
In the months leading up to the operation, patients will need to adjust their dietary and exercise habits according to the doctor’s particular recommendations. Individuals who do not permanently change their health patterns – which means eating healthier and becoming more physically active – ahead of time will not get the most out of the surgery and will be further endangering their bodies. It is necessary to stop smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages well before the surgery date as well, and altering any prescription or over-the-counter medications deemed unsafe by the doctor.
Bariatric surgery is performed under general anesthesia so the patient is not conscious. The procedure can take several hours and patients generally remain in the hospital or facility for up to five days. A majority of bariatric procedures are performed laparoscopically, meaning the doctor will only need to make small incisions in the abdomen, leading to a shorter healing period.
The period of recovery for bariatric surgery is a crucial time that will massively impact the procedure’s outcome and overall health.
Patients will not be able to eat for the first couple of days after surgery to allow ample healing time; they will then transition into a specialized liquid diet, followed by a period of eating only soft foods. This precise graduated diet will be followed for about 12 weeks until the digestive system has recovered enough to process normal solid food. Some common symptoms following surgery include flu-like symptoms like body aches, fatigue, and fluctuations in temperature and mood as the body adjusts to its new processing mechanisms.
Bariatric surgery is designed to produce weight loss over time, so results will not be visible immediately and will vastly depend on your new habits following the procedure.
Optimal results will be dictated by patient’s’ commitment to proper diet and exercise. In many cases, though, it is possible to shed 50% or more of your excess body weight within two years. The more closely you follow counsel regarding nutrition and physical activity, the better your chances will be of reaching your target weight and gaining enormous confidence in your body.
Bariatric surgery is an extremely individualized set of procedures that must be tailored to each patient’s physical issues. The cost of a weight loss operation is likewise variable and will depend on a multitude of situational factors.