Bariatric surgery is any type of surgery that adjusts your digestive system in some way so that you can lose weight. It is only used when a person is overweight to the extent that they are obese and that this poses a significant risk to their health, yet they are not so unhealthy as to not qualify for the procedure.
Obesity has been linked to several health conditions including metabolic syndrome, which is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease; bariatric surgery is not used for patients who are simply overweight as the risks then outweigh the benefits.
Gastric bypass versus gastric sleeve
The main types of bariatric surgery are gastric bypass and gastric sleeve procedures; the bypass procedure is when the surgeon joins the top portion of your stomach to the mid-part or jejunum of your small intestine; in the process it bypasses most of the stomach and the first portion of the intestine; the result is that the size of the stomach is smaller and less food can be held and less of the nutrients are absorbed.
Gastric sleeve is a surgery in which a surgeon makes a small sleeve or pouch after cutting away a large part of the stomach; unlike a gastric bypass procedure, the intestines are not affected by the sleeve procedure.
The idea behind the gastric sleeve is that the stomach becomes a small pouch that can only contain a small amount of food, which then limits how much food a person can eat at one time; nutrient absorption is not affected because the duodenum, first part of the small intestine, is not bypassed as it is in the gastric bypass procedure.
Which procedure is right for you?
A consult with a surgeon is the best way to determine which method, gastric sleeve versus gastric bypass, would be the best option for you; this is because each person is different and there are a number of factors to take into account.
With a bypass you do lose a lot of weight but you also may lose too many nutrients, which means you need to be careful and may need to take supplements; with a gastric sleeve weight loss may be slower but you do not have to worry about not enough absorbing nutrients.
A gastric sleeve also has fewer side effects than a bypass and the surgery does not take as long; on the other hand patients who have gastric bypass are more likely to overcome problems such as type 2 diabetes and GERD than do patients who have gastric sleeve.
Who should have bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgery is only recommended for people who have a body mass index of 35 and a corresponding weight-associated illness, or have a BMI of 40; in addition, surgeons often only operate on patients who have shown a change in lifestyle including eating healthy meals and exercising more; this is important as it then shows the patient is serious about weight loss and will hopefully continue such habits after surgery.