10 Dec What is Bariatric Surgery: The Pocket Guide to Bariatric Surgery
What is bariatric surgery? What types of bariatric surgery currently exists? Is it an effective surgery for weight loss? Can it improve overall quality of life?
In this article, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about bariatric surgery, answer all of these questions, and more.
What is Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric surgery is a procedure that involves “making changes to your digestive system to help you lose weight”. It is normally undergone when a person has serious problems due to their weight or when diet and exercise haven’t been enough to push for weight loss. Some procedures limit how much food a person can ingest, others reduce the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and some even do both.
“Severe obesity is a chronic condition that can be difficult to treat. For many people, bariatric surgery helps them by restricting the amount of food that they ingest. It can also make major changes to both their stomach and intestines. Oftentimes, obesity is due to an issue within the digestion tract, this causes the body to digest poorly and even make food move too fast in the body. This causes the individual to absorb extra calories, which prevents them from losing the most optimal amount of weight.” – Bariatric Journal
Bariatric surgery can then help patients lose weight by restricting the amount of food that can be ingested, as well as limiting the body’s ability to absorb calories.
What are the Types of Bariatric Surgery
There are several types of bariatric surgery. Below, we’ll explain each of them briefly.
Also known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. It helps patients lose weight by limiting the amount of food they can ingest, restricting the body’s ability to absorb calories. The procedure consists of creating a small pouch for the stomach, which is then attached to a piece of the small intestine. Food can then come out of the pouch and go directly into the small intestine, bypassing a part of the stomach and intestine in the process. It aids in weight because the pouch restricts the amount of food that can be eaten in one sitting and restricting the ability to absorb calories.
Sleeve gastrectomy is a surgical procedure that permanently removes a large portion of the stomach, leaving it at about 15% of its original size. The remaining portion of the organ is formed into a thin tube or “sleeve”, which gives the surgical procedure its name. In the end, the stomach ends up being about the size of a banana!
It can encourage weight loss in two ways:
- By drastically restricting the amount of food that can be ingested
- The removal of the part of the stomach that produces ghrelin (also known as “the hunger hormone”)
This procedure, also known as Adjustable Gastric Band, involves an inflatable band that is placed around the upper portion of the stomach. This divides the stomach into two “pouches”: a small pouch above the band, and the rest of the stomach below the band. The surgery can aid in weight loss efforts because the smaller pouch will receive food first, which means that a smaller amount of food will be able to satisfy hunger and provide a feeling of fullness and satiety.
The size of the stomach opening can be adjusted by filling the band with saline solution, which is injected through a port placed under the skin. Bear in mind, the reduction of the opening is done gradually, which means that several fills will be needed over time.
It’s a procedure that has a greater percentage of patients failing to lose at least 50% of excess body weight compared to other weight-loss surgeries, and one that also needs a foreign device to remain in the body.
Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (BPD/DS)
This type of surgery – BPD/DS for short – is also a type of gastric bypass. It consists of two steps:
- A piece of the stomach is removed, leaving a smaller sized organ (much like a sleeve gastrectomy)
- A large portion of the intestine is bypassed (like gastric bypass surgery)
This is done so that when a patient eats, the food will go through the new stomach pouch and empty directly into the last part of the small intestine (bypassing the rest of the intestinal tract). Approximately ¾ of the small intestine is bypassed when food is ingested. It can aid in weight loss efforts by:
- Limiting the amount of food that can be ingested
- Decreasing calorie absorption by bypassing most of the small intestine
- Impacting gut hormones related to hunger and satiety (like sleeve gastrectomy & gastric bypass)
What is Robotic Bariatric Surgery?
There are two main types of bariatric surgery: robotic and laparoscopic.
Laparoscopy was one of the only bariatric surgery methods available, which worked as a sound medical procedure. It works by creating 5-6 small incisions in the abdomen to allow for the laparoscope to enter in order to undergo the procedure.
On the other hand, robotic bariatric surgery is carried out by a surgeon who uses a technologically advanced surgical robot. The robot (like our very own Da Vinci robot) allows surgeons to carry out bariatric surgery procedures by using computer-guided & magnified 3D visualizations.
This type of surgery allows the surgeon to operate with a greater range of motion, higher precision, and overall better efficiency.
This is why at the Colorado Bariatric Surgery Institute all bariatric procedures are performed robotically. You can learn more about the differences between robotic and laparoscopic bariatric surgery here.
Why Patients Undergo Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric surgery is a great procedure that can help you lose excess weight, as well as reduce the risk of several life-threatening problems related to obesity, such as:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
- High cholesterol
- Joint pain
Does Bariatric Surgery Work?
Bariatric surgery is a helpful procedure for extreme weight loss, but the patient also needs to be willing to make health-focused changes in the long term to ensure the surgery is a success. Any type of bariatric surgery can provide long-term weight loss. The amount of weight that can be lost depends on the type of surgery and change in lifestyle habits, but bariatric surgery has been known to make it “possible to lose half, or even more, of your excess weight within two years.”
As we already mentioned, bariatric surgery can also help improve or solve other weight-related conditions, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, etc. It can also help improve a person’s ability to perform daily activities, thus improving the overall quality of life.
However, it’s important to note that bariatric surgery is not a miracle procedure. Patients have to be willing to change their health habits in order to guarantee long-lasting results. Physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet are key to ensure that bariatric surgery helps an individual reach his or her health goals.
Is Bariatric Surgery Right For You?
If you are looking at bariatric surgery as a possible option for weight loss or to deal with current problems brought on by excess weight, then you need to review if it’s right for you.
Bariatric surgery is an effective weight loss surgery that can help people who are morbidly obese to improve their quality of life. It might be a good option for you if:
- Your BMI is 35 to 39.9 (obesity) and you have serious weight-related health issues, like type 2 diabetes, severe sleep apnea, or high blood pressure.
- Your BMI is 40 or higher (extreme obesity)
- Your BMI is 30 to 34, but you have extreme weight-related health problems.
- You meet the medical guidelines to qualify for weight-loss surgery.
- You are willing to make permanent changes to lead a healthier lifestyle post-surgery.
Thinking of undergoing bariatric surgery? Find out how it can help and if it’s right for you here.
Are There Any Bariatric Surgery Risks to Look Out For?
Like with any other surgical procedure, bariatric surgery isn’t free of risks. According to Mayo Clinic, it can pose potential health risks like:
- Excessive bleeding
- Reactions to anesthesia
- Blood clots
- Lung problems
- Leaks in the gastrointestinal system
- Death (rare)
There are also some long-term risks and complications that can vary depending on the type of surgery. These can include:
- Bowel obstruction
- Low blood sugar
- Acid reflux
- Dumping syndrome
- The need for a second procedure
Bariatric Surgery In A Nutshell
Bariatric surgery refers to the four main surgical procedures we mentioned above: gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable gastric bands, and BPD/DS (Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch). Each of them works differently from the others, but their main purpose is to help patients lose excess weight by reducing the amount of food that can be ingested, as well as limiting the body’s ability to absorb calories.
At Colorado Bariatric, we focus on Robotic Bariatric Surgery, including both Robotic Gastric Bypass and Robotic Sleeve Gastrectomy procedures, both of which are undergone using a state-of-the-art Da Vinci robot. If you want to learn more about whether bariatric surgery is right for you and if your insurance will cover it, you can get in touch with us here.