What is Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery, bariatric weight loss procedure, medical weight loss procedure, and weight loss surgery are all terms used to describe some type of assisted weight loss tool. But are they all the same? These terms tend to be used interchangeably but they do not all mean the same thing.

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Bariatric Surgery and Weight Loss Surgery are terms used to describe a wide variety of weight loss procedures but these terms are meant to indicate surgical procedures used to help obese individuals lose weight.

These surgeries reduce the size of the stomach and make alterations to the digestive system (rerouting it) so that the body can not absorb all the calories or a combination of both. This category includes gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, duodenal switch, and gastric band.

Bariatric Weight Loss Procedure

Bariatric weight loss procedure, non-surgical weight loss procedure, and medical weight loss procedure are all terms used to describe a procedure that is performed to limit the amount of food an individual can consume but does not involve surgery. Procedures that would be in this category would be a gastric balloon, endoscopic gastric sleeve (ESG), and endoscopic gastric bypass revision.

To better understand the different solutions for weight loss at IBI Healthcare Institute, join our free online bariatric seminar. 

Why would you have Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is performed to help individuals lose weight who are heavier in weight. It is usually done after these individuals have tried to lose weight by other means such as diet and exercise. Often individuals who are obese have potentially life-threatening health issues related to their weight including:

  • Sleep Apnea.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • High Blood Pressure.
  • Risk for Heart Disease, Stroke, and Cancer.
  • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
Bariatric Surgery

Studies have shown that once an individual’s BMI (body mass index) has reached a certain level, they have very little chance of losing enough weight to decrease their BMI enough to fall within a healthy range without some type of medical intervention. Bariatric surgery is a tool that, when coupled with dietary changes and increased physical activity, has proven effective in lowering a patient’s BMI and often reducing or eliminating weight-related health issues such as type 2 diabetes.

Types of Bariatric Surgery

Most bariatric surgeries include surgically removing a portion of the stomach approx. 70-80% to limit food intake. This is called a restrictive technique. Other surgeries may involve reorganizing the digestive system so the body cannot absorb all of the nutrients and calories that are ingested. This is called a malabsorptive technique. Some bariatric surgeries involve both techniques.

  • Sleeve Gastroplasty or Gastric Sleeve –  is a restrictive technique surgery where the stomach is surgically reduced in size limiting the intake of food.

  • Gastric Bypass – involves both restrictive and malabsorptive techniques and includes both a reduction in stomach size and alterations to the digestive system.

  • Duodenal Switch – reduces the size of the stomach and alters two parts of the digestive system and also uses both restrictive and malabsorptive techniques.

  • Gastric Band – involves the surgical installation of an adjustable belt-like device at the top of the stomach to limit the intake of food. The belt can be adjusted by the surgeon to control the size of the stomach opening. Gastric band surgery utilizes the restrictive technique for weight loss.
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Types of Bariatric Weight Loss Procedures

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  • Gastric Balloon – is made out of soft silicone, it is placed endoscopically into the patient’s stomach to control the portion size.

  • Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty (ESG) – is a non-surgical alternative to popular gastric sleeve surgery that is done endoscopically. An endoscopic suturing device is inserted into the patient’s stomach to reduce its size by 70-80%.

Who is a Candidate for Bariatric Surgery

An individual who has a BMI of 40+ or an individual with a BMI of 35+ that also has weight-related health issues are candidates for bariatric surgery. Qualifications for a non-surgical bariatric weight loss procedure can include individuals with lower BMI numbers and also patients who would for some reason be unable to undergo a surgical procedure.

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What to expect from Bariatric Surgery

Before Surgery

Your bariatric clinic will provide you with instructions on how to get ready for the type of surgery you are about to undergo. You might need lab work completed before surgery as well as medication changes. You may also be put on a pre-surgical diet and exercise plan for up to three months before your surgery. Normally patients will be required to do a liver-shrinking diet about 2 weeks before having bariatric surgery.

During Surgery

Your surgery will be performed in a hospital or surgical center under general anesthesia meaning you will be asleep during the surgery. The details of your surgery will depend on the type of surgery you are having, the surgeon’s preferences, and any extenuating circumstances that may be present in your case. Most bariatric surgery is performed laparoscopically through small incisions that are made in the abdomen. In rare situations, open surgery may have to be performed which would require a larger incision and a longer recovery time.

After Surgery

Immediately after surgery, you will be in a recovery room for several hours. You will not be allowed to eat or drink anything until the next day. The medical staff will be working to get you up and walking around as soon as possible to avoid blood clots. After you have met specific milestones, you will be released to a hospital room where you will stay for between one to three days depending on the type of surgery you have had. If complications arise your hospital stay may be extended.

You will return home with instructions on how to take care of yourself specific to the type of surgery you had. You may have incisions that need a certain type of care, or drains, sutures, etc. Your aftercare instructions will also provide you with information regarding the timeline for showering, bathing, driving, lifting, and performing household tasks.

For the next several months you will be on a very restricted diet beginning with liquids only, then pureed foods, soft foods, and eventually working your way up to solid foods. Your bariatric weight loss center will provide you with guidelines pertaining to your diet. In the next several months you will have several follow-up appointments with your bariatric weight loss center as well as support-related appointments.

Results of Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery

Bariatric weight loss surgery such as gastric bypass can result in significant weight loss. The amount of weight a patient can lose as well as their ability to maintain their weight loss depends on their level of dedication and commitment to ongoing lifestyle changes. In addition to the loss of weight bariatric surgery often improves or eliminates health conditions resulting from obesity. Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, etc. are often relieved as early as 3 months after the surgery.

Bariatric surgery will not only improve patient health but can also boost energy and improve quality of life. Performing routine activities that may have been physically impossible previous to surgery will become second nature.

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Risks and Side Effects of Bariatric Surgery

There are risks associated with any major surgery and bariatric surgery can pose some short-term and long-term health risks. Picking a highly-skilled, board-certified surgeon and following all pre- and post-procedure instructions and diet can minimize your surgery risks.

Risks Associated with Bariatric Surgery

  • Bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Deep vein thrombosis.
  • Gastrointestinal leaks.
  • Adverse reactions to anesthesia.
  • Lung issues or problems breathing.
  • Death (very rare).

Complications and long-term risks of weight loss surgery can vary based on the specific procedure performed and the patient’s health condition. A thorough evaluation by a board-certified bariatric surgeon is necessary prior to the procedure.

Long-Term Risks of Bariatric Surgery

  • Ulcers.
  • Hernias.
  • Gallstones.
  • Acid Reflux.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Hypoglycemia.
  • Obstruction of Bowels.
  • Lightheadedness, and Vomiting.
  • Dumping Syndrome is often accompanied by Diarrhea.

Make sure to choose an Expert Surgeon in the Bariatric Weight Loss field, a board-certified bariatric surgeon specializing in the type of surgery you are looking for to mitigate the risks.