Obesity & Weight Loss 101 — Does Bariatric Surgery Help?

Your physician will only suggest undergoing bariatric surgery if your obesity is life threatening and no other form of treatment and lifestyle changes have been successful. You must consider undergoing weight loss surgery if you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 40 or have a BMI of 35 or above and other serious health conditions that could be improved if you lose weight. However, this should only be considered as a last option. It is recommended that you try losing weight through a healthy, calorie-controlled diet and exercise first. This is because obesity surgery requires a significant change in lifestyle after the surgery and carries the risk of several complications.

What does weight loss surgery do?

There are several types of bariatric surgeries available for you to choose from such as Roux-en-Y, biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch, gastric banding, etc. Your physician will counsel you on the best possible surgery option for you to undergo. In any of these surgeries, the surgeon will use a type of method to reduce the size of your stomach to a small pouch which can hold a lesser amount of food. This allows lesser nutrients to be absorbed and reduces the intake of food by your body.

Why is diet and exercise so important after the surgery?

Bariatric surgery is an effective way to help you lose weight but without regular exercise and a healthy diet, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to achieve your weight goals. The weight loss you have achieved is not permanent. One has to work consistently every day to maintain the weight they have lost. After your weight loss surgery, you must follow the diet that has been provided for you. In the beginning you will only be allowed to consume liquids and then slowly soft foods for the first few weeks. This is to help your digestive system heal from the surgery.

Within the first year of your obesity surgery you will lose weight drastically. It is important for you to follow the plan your health advisors have provided you with.

What kind of complications am I at risk of?

As with any other major surgery, weight loss surgeries do pose potential long term as well as short term risks for the patient. Risks associated with the surgical procedure itself include, excessive bleeding, infection, blood clots and breathing or lung problems. The long term risk one faces includes malnutrition, low blood sugar, vomiting etc.

These complications are extremely rare and if you have any concerns contact your doctor immediately. They may occur only if you deviate from the health plan provided so exercise regularly and eat healthy every day to be safe.