The planet faces an obesity epidemic. According to the Wold Health Organization (WHO), in 2008 there were more than 1.4 billion overweight adults and more than half a billion were considered obese. This results in 2.8 million deaths a year and the prevalence of obesity doubled between 1980 and 2008. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate there are 78 million obese Americans.
The increase in obesity has made many people opt for weight loss surgery.
Different Options for Weight Loss Surgery
Gastric Bypass Surgery: First, The surgeon divides the stomach into two parts. The smaller portion is more like a small pouch that can hold only a very small amount of food. Next, the doctor changes the route the food takes. That smaller part of the stomach is disconnected from the first part of small intestine called the duodenum and reconnected further down to a section called the jejunum. Because the duodenum is bypassed, much of the food and nutrients are not absorbed.
Gastric Sleeve Surgery: This is similar to the bypass but the surgeon creates a “sleeve” from the stomach by stapling or sewing a segment that will end up being about the size of a banana. The intestines are not altered and the larger part of the stomach is removed. This is the most common form of weight loss surgery.
Gastric Banding Surgery: Also called a “gastric lap band,” the surgeon will place a band around the top portion of the stomach, creating a pouch. A tube is connected to just under the skin and saline can be added (or removed) to dictate how restrictive the band is and control how much food can be eaten.
All of these surgeries have risks and benefits. People who undergo one of the first two will lose more weight than with the lap band but there more complications from removing portions of the stomach and/or changing the way the intestines function. For gastric bypass patients there may be complications stemming from the malabsorption of nutrients causing them to need to take supplements. These problems are easily manageable with routine testing and vitamin and mineral supplements. These surgeries do not usually require lengthy hospital stays and people are often back to their normal activities fairly quickly.
According to he American Society for the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) in 2014 there were, 193,000 total weight loss surgeries. Of those, 26.8% were gastric bypasses, 51.7% were gastric sleeves and lap bands made up 9.5%.
Weight loss surgery is the most effective and reliable way for seriously overweight and obese people to lose weight. Losing weight can prevent many illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea and some cancers. Some weight loss surgery patients lose as much as 77% percent of excess weight and increase their lifespan by nearly 90%. Additionally, most have maintained at least 50% of their weight loss five years after surgery.
The bottom line is people need to do some research, talk to people who have had the different procedures to determine which, if any, would make the best option for their particular circumstance. All surgeries carry some risk but it can be mitigated and outweighed by the positive results achieved. These are considered very safe procedures and there are many experienced bariatric surgeons who are available to answer any questions a patient might have.