Today’s unhealthy eating habits and mostly sedentary lifestyle has inevitably invited many health-related issues that were not very common few years back. One of these issues is obesity which is affecting people from all age groups and is not restricted to developed countries but spreading across the globe. Obesity is defined as accumulation of excess fats in the body. It is different from being overweight as the higher than normal weight can be a result of more developed muscles.

The excess fat deposited in the body is proven to be associated with many complications like heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, arthritis etc. To reduce the risk of such disease, controlling the obesity is essential.

 

What is Bariatric surgery?

Also known as weight loss surgery, bariatric surgery is one of the few proven methods to reduce weight. Bariatric surgery is not a single procedure, rather it is a group of different procedure that alter the digestion process in one or other way, so as toeither reduce the intake or absorption of food. Bariatric surgery is like a boon to those who are extremely obese, at the verge of developing obesity related complication and previously failed to lose weight through diet or exercise.

 

Types of Bariatric surgery

Based on the physical condition of the patient, extent of obesity and its cause, a surgeon may suggest from many types of weight loss procedures, the two most common options are:

  1. Gastric Bypass- This is the most commonly used technique for bariatric surgery and is also considered as the ‘gold standard’ for weight loss surgery.

It is done in two steps- first, creating a sac-like structure by dividing the top of the stomach from the rest. Second, cutting a portion of small intestine, pulling it up and joining it with the sac.

This procedure works by two mechanisms. First, the newly created stomach pouch facilitates significantly smaller meal than the normal stomach. Second, a significant part of intestine that would normally absorb digested food now does not has food going through it, thus reducing the calories absorbed.

 

  1. Sleeve Gastrectomy- This procedure is performed by removing a large portion of the stomach (approximately 80%) leaving only a tubular banana-like pouch.

This procedure also works through two mechanisms. First, the new stomach pouch holds much smaller volume of food than a normal stomach would. Second, since a large part of stomach is removed, it affects the gut hormones that are related to appetite and metabolism. This surgery cannot be reversed because some part of stomach is permanently removed.

 

Who can undergo Bariatric surgery?

A patient can undergo bariatric surgery if he/she-

  1. is an adult.
  2. is too obese.
  3. is suffering from obesity related disorders.
  4. is not able to reduce weight through normal methods.
  5. is committed to adapt a healthy and active lifestyle after the surgery.

After the patient has passed on above mentioned points, the surgeon also ensures whether the patient is physically and mentally prepared to undergo bariatric surgery.

 

Who cannot undergo Bariatric surgery?

A patient is not eligible to undergo bariatric surgery if he/she-

  1. is addicted to tobacco or alcohol
  2. is depressed or suffering from any other mental disorder
  3. is suffering from hormonal imbalance
  4. is having some contraindications for the surgery
  5. is able to control weight with proper diet, exercise and medication

 

What is Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery?

Laparoscopic surgery is a new technique to operate on a patient with the help of special equipment called as laparoscope. In this surgery, instead of making one big incision (like in traditional method) the surgeon performs the procedure through few tiny holes. That’s why it is also known as keyhole surgery. Laparoscopic surgery comes with a great deal of benefits over traditional methods like smaller incisions, less blood loss, less post-operative pain, early discharge, lower chances of infection etc. These days, the use of laparoscopic technique has improved the outcomes of weight loss surgeries.

 

Before the surgery

Before the surgery, physician makes sure that the patient is physically ready to undergo surgery. If needed, a psychological assessment is also performed. The patient is asked to quit tobacco or alcohol at least 6 months before the surgery and is started on a new diet prescribed by dietitian. The surgeon counsels the patient and his/her relatives about the procedure, its outcome and post-operative care. If the patient is suffering from hypertension or diabetes, the blood pressure and blood sugar need to be kept in check before the surgery.

 

After the surgery

After the surgery, patient needs to take rest for a few days and then start light exercise as directed by the physician. As the patient gets more comfortable, the level of exercise is increased. Diet plays the most crucial role after the surgery. Patient is given mostly liquid diet for first few days after the surgery and then gradually shifted to solid diet. As the absorption of nutrients is limited through these procedures, the patient may experience deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals which needs to be compensated with external suppliments.

 

Points to remember

  1. Bariatric surgery is not a substitute of healthy diet and exercise. It is only for those who are not able to reduce weight through these means.
  2. Bariatric surgery does not reduce the weight overnight. It just helps you to maintain a healthy lifestyle which in turn, makes you lose weight.
  3. Bariatric surgery is not for everyone. The patient needs to meet many physical and psychological requirements before the surgery.

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