For the past several weeks we have been talking about many of the diet products on the market these days. There are so many different types of weight loss products out there that we really can’t go over everything, but I think we have introduced enough that our readers are much more aware about them than they were before.
So this week we are going to begin our discussion on the various forms of weight loss surgery that are available to people nowadays. Weight loss surgery has become so widespread all over the world that you are certain to know someone who has done it or someone who knows someone who has. There is some ethical discussion about whether or not this type of surgery is done out of vanity or whether it is done for dire health purposes. Naturally, every different person who is considering doing such surgery has their own reasons, and every person must be assessed separately, but probably most people do it for health AND vanity reasons, which are both valid. Having said this, we must always remember that all forms of surgery are dangerous, can result in death, and before anyone makes the decision to do weight loss surgery (or any other type of surgery, for that matter), all the details, dangers, and potential long term drawbacks of the proposed type of surgery should be well researched, well understood, and well thought out. Any overweight person who is considering doing any of the various forms of weight loss surgeries that we will discuss, must be well aware of all of the risks, as well as what the benefits are.
While many of these types of surgeries seem quite drastic, the fact is that, statistically, it has been proven that overweight (obese) people actually live longer after having done one of the various forms of weight loss surgery. So, drastic or not, some people simply can’t diet their miseries away and need a stronger push. The fact is that obese people are dying every day of the various complications of being obese. According to the American Medical Association in the year 2000 around 400,000 people died from obesity attributed complications (such as diabetes, heart problems, etc). This is where weight loss (also called bariatric) surgery comes into the picture. It doesn’t only make people look better, but it saves lives.
There are several different types of weight loss surgery, some being more drastic than others. Some methods are reversible and some aren’t, so, if you are one of the people considering weight loss surgery, think a thousand times over before you make a decision that you might regret later on.
One of the oldest forms of weight loss surgery is what is called the gastric bypass (also known as stomach stapling, although there is really much more to it than that). This procedure is performed as an in-patient procedure with a stay in the hospital because it is quite drastic. Basically what happens here is that you are opened up surgically, and rearranged. This method is actually made up of several different methods, including a simple bypass, which combines a reduction of the size of the stomach (either through stapling or banding) to the size of a small pouch (but leaves the rest of the stomach intact), combined with a change in the location of the intestine, which prevents people from eating too much and also acts to prevent absorption in certain cases as well, and a more serious version, where the entire stomach is cut off and made into a tiny pouch, the last portion of the small intestine is reattached to this small pouch stomach while bypassing the duodenum and the jejunum completely, thus preventing absorption of food. While the weight loss (as you can well imagine) is great with this, since it is so drastic the side effects are almost always increased.
Naturally, as you would imagine, with such a change in the body you are going to have several possible side effects. These side effects include vomiting (particularly when an episode of overeating occurs), dumping (which is when the food that is eaten passes directly through the bowel without being absorbed, and causes weakness, diarrhea, nausea, etc.), vitamin deficiency, and more.
The other newer type of weight loss surgery is called the laparoscopic gastric band. Basically, this type of surgery consists of tiny laparoscopic incisions that enable placement of a plastic “band” around the low end of the esophagus (at the very top of the stomach), which creates a tiny pouch. The idea behind this is that once the band is filled (which is done with a needle through a port under the skin) it causes the person to feel full after eating only tiny amounts of food, thus the weight loss. This procedure must also be done in the hospital, but it requires a much shorter stay. Also, since the procedure is done laparoscopically, and is much less invasive than the gastric bypass, the recovery time is much shorter. The LAP band is also a reversible procedure, so that if, for any reason (but why would you want to?) you wish to remove the band, you can.
With this type of weight loss surgery there are several advantages, including the fact that it is adjustable, so that if you need to eat (for example, if you become pregnant) you can simply deflate it. It has much fewer complications than the gastric bypass surgery, although there are always going to be a minute amount of people who suffer certain complications, and these can include erosion of the area of the stomach where the band is touching, band slippage, etc., although the percentage of people that these complications occur with are extremely low, and with proper diet and care, all of these complications should be easily averted.
One of the drawbacks with this type of operation, as compared to the gastric bypass is that sometimes the weight takes longer to come off, but that could also be considered an advantage, since the longer it takes, the better the skin tone could come out (who wants horrible saggy skin?). Also, apparently, according to long term studies, the weight that is taken off with the LAP band surgery is more permanent, because often with gastric bypass, the weight is regained after several years, because the people can eventually stretch their pouch with long term overeating (for those who don’t change their eating habits and make a commitment to it). Logic will also tell you (as well as statistics) that the less invasive the procedure is the less complications you will have, so the LAP band is the least invasive, the normal gastric bypass is more invasive, and the drastic version of the gastric bypass is the most invasive of all, and carries with it the most complications and drawbacks.
These types of operations are definitely not for the faint of heart. They are for seriously obese people who have a long history of dieting and exercise without success. These are for people who desperately need to lose weight, usually for medical reasons. Usually the minimum Body Mass Index (BMI) for even being considered for this operation would be 40 or more, or are 100 pounds or more overweight (here in Kuwait, being 100 kilos or over is often a standard for doctors). The other problem is that this type of procedure is expensive, so it is still not an option for everyone, but prices are going down, and for those who desperately need it, the government hospitals offer cut rate prices (because you only have to pay for the band itself, for example in the LAP band procedure).
So, while these operations are not a standard weight loss solution, and are quite severe when compared to the dieting and exercise traditionally employed for weight loss, they are extremely effective, and statistically have shown better results than simple diet and exercise in both the short and long term. So, if you are suffering from severe obesity combined with serious (or potentially serious) medical problems, you might want to consider some form of weight loss surgery, but do your own investigations, and do see a highly qualified doctor.
(For people who are interested in finding out more, you can contact me through email: email@example.com, for more information and names of doctors).