According to various statistics, each year in the U.S. over 100,000 people opt for weight loss surgery. Obesity surgery (known as bariatric surgery) has been proved to be very effective for people with life-threatening weight-related conditions, but it is regarded as a last resort when all other methods of controlling weight, including prescription drugs, have failed. Here’s a closer look at this method of weight loss.

Obesity surgery is available privately on referral, and only for patients who have been receiving treatment from a doctor in regards to their obesity. To be considered for an operation, patients must have a BMI of 40 or more, or 35 or more if they have medical conditions that would improve with weight loss. They must also be fit enough to have a general anesthetic and be psychologically prepared for the life-changing implications of the operation.

Types of surgical procedure

The following types of surgical procedure are available; they may be carried out as ‘open’ or keyhole surgery. Gastric banding, or lap bands, involve the placement of a constricting band around the top of the stomach to restrict food intake, creating a small pouch and a narrow passage into the remainder of the stomach. An inflatable balloon is usually incorporated, which can be adjusted if necessary after the operation.

Gastroplasty involves partitioning the stomach into two parts, horizontally or vertically, creating a small segment of the stomach that fills rapidly with just a few tablespoons of food and then empties slowly through the digestive system.

Bypass operations involve both restriction of the stomach and bypassing some of the digestive system, so that fewer calories (and nutrients) are absorbed from food. There are two options; gastric bypass and biliopancreatic diversion, which is more extensive. Obesity surgery patients need special dietary advice before and after the operation and will be monitored for life, to ensure they do not become deficient in nutrients and that there are no complications from the surgery.

Research shows that bariatric surgery can be very effective and a life-saver for people who urgently need to lose significant amounts of weight for their health. But, along with this are many risks that you must consider. Any procedure under general anesthetic will carry risks. And the dramatic changes in diet and lifestyle that are needed after surgery are permanent.This is an option to be considered very carefully and then only with specialist support and advice. It is truly a method of last resort for losing weight.

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