Surgery for Obesity

Health professionals always recommend weight loss through diet and exercise, but in some instances they will perform weight-loss surgery, known as bariatric surgery. As with any surgery, it comes with many risks, and its not a solution for everyone.

In order to qualify for surgery, most people must be severely obese or obese with serious medical conditions. Doctors will usually have patients attempt to lose weight through diet and exercise or drug therapy before agreeing to surgery. Patients must also understand that with surgery comes a lifelong commitment to changes in eating habits and exercise. Its not a quick-fix.

There are two types of obesity surgery, restrictive and malabsorptive.

Restrictive Surgery

Restrictive surgery means just what it sounds like, it restricts food intake by making the stomach smaller. Gastric bypass is the most common type of restrictive surgery.

Malabsorptive Surgery

Malabosorptive surgery is less common than restrictive surgery because its riskier. These surgeries limit the amount of calories and nutrients the body absorbs, causing an increased risk of malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies.

Gastric bypass

In gastric bypass, the stomach is stapled to created a tiny pouch that can only hold about one ounce of food. The small intestine is then cut, and part of it is sewed directly onto the pouch. This procedure directs food from the small pouch directly into the second section of the small intestine instead of going through the entire stomach the first section of the small intestine. This limits the number of calories absorbed by the body.

Most people who have gastric bypass lose around half of their excess weight, and many keep it off for 10 years or more.

As successful as it may be, its not free of risk. Approximately one in 200 people die from the procedure, and people who have the surgery may experience side effects such as iron and B-12 deficiency, gallstones, and bleeding ulcers. Also, since the stomach is so small, eating too much could cause vomit or severe pain. Read more about gastric bypass surgery.

Malabsorptive Surgery – Malabosorptive surgery is less common than restrictive surgery because its riskier. These surgeries limit the amount of calories and nutrients the body absorbs, causing an increased risk of malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies.

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