Bariatric surgery is a procedure performed on people who are obese for the purpose of losing weight. Recent statistics show that 30% of Americans meet the criteria for obesity. By medical standards, obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 kg/m2.The goal of weight loss surgery is to reduce the amount of food one can consume at any given time and the amount of digested food they can absorb. Weight loss is usually achieved by reducing the size of the stomach with an implanted medical device (gastric band, gastric balloon), removal of a portion of the stomach (sleeve gastrectomy), reducing the size of the stomach (gastric placation) or by resectioning and re-routing the small intestines to a small stomach pouch (gastric bypass surgery).
Before you proceed with any type of weight loss procedure consider several factors including:
• Expectations: Bariatric procedures will improve your appearance and overall health. Many patients with chronic medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes will often see an improvement as the weight loss occurs. It is important to remember that just having the surgery is not a panacea for permanent weight loss. Dietary and lifestyle changes are necessary to assure that the weight loss achieved in long term.
• Expense: Only two weight loss surgeries (gastric band and gastric sleeve) that are covered under some health insurance especially if there are other health issues coupled with obesity.
• Risks: Depending on the procedure, risks involved with bariatric surgery include those seen with any abdominal surgery: wound infection, bleeding or blood clot formation, hernias may result at incision site, sutures could be rejected or leak, and adhesions may result in obstructed or blocked intestine.
• Recovery: Recovery time depends on the type of bariatric procedure involved. Generally recovery time is between 1-3 weeks. The recovery time is longer for procedures that involve removal and manipulation of digestive tissue. Normal activity can usually resume after 6 weeks.
• Psychological changes: Although weight loss can boost an individual's self confidence and body image, many emotional and psychological issues can appear with a sudden change in appearance. Some individuals may have a lingering perception of being obese even after losing the weight. It takes time to see you in a new image. Extra skin after weight loss can be frustrating or depressing. As this is a normal result from a significant weight loss. There are cosmetic procedures to remove excess skin and improve your appearance. Sometimes relationships can change as you lose weight and enjoy the change in activity and greater self confidence of a new body image. Some patients may have a difficult time coping with the changes in their lifestyle and dietary routine.
After determining that you want to proceed with bariatric surgery, the next step should be to find a surgeon and schedule a consultation. Have a list of topics ready including questions about the surgeon and procedure(s), and resulting desires/expectations. Working closely with your surgeon throughout the process will improve the chance of satisfaction with the results of your procedure(s).