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  • Writer's pictureJulien Chamoun

Weight Loss Surgery, Is It Right For You?

Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is a medical procedure designed to help individuals struggling with obesity achieve significant and long-term weight loss. This is often the best route if you have tried countless diets and implemented regular exercise, and still saw minimal results. There are several types of weight loss surgeries available, each with its own pros and cons.

  1. Gastric Bypass Surgery: Gastric bypass surgery is one of the most widely performed weight loss procedures. It involves creating a small pouch in the stomach and rerouting the small intestine to bypass a portion of it. The pros of gastric bypass surgery include rapid weight loss, reduced hunger, and potential improvement of obesity-related conditions such as diabetes. However, the cons include the risk of complications, long-term dietary adjustments, and the possibility of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This is the best option for those who have a lot more weight to lose, or those who struggle with acid reflux.

  2. Sleeve Gastrectomy: In a sleeve gastrectomy, a large portion of the stomach is removed, leaving a narrow "sleeve-like" structure. This procedure reduces the stomach's capacity, leading to decreased food intake and early satiety. The pros of sleeve gastrectomy include significant weight loss, improvement in obesity-related health conditions, and relatively fewer complications compared to other surgeries. However, the cons include the potential for long-term dietary restrictions, the possibility of acid reflux, and the irreversible nature of the procedure. This is the best option for most people as it's the easiest to recover from. However, if you struggle from severe acid reflux, it's best to consider the bypass.

  3. Adjustable Gastric Banding: Adjustable gastric banding involves placing a silicone band around the upper part of the stomach, creating a small pouch. The band can be adjusted to control the passage of food. The pros of this procedure include its reversibility, lower risk of complications, and adjustability. However, the cons include slower weight loss compared to other surgeries, the need for regular adjustments, and the potential for band-related complications such as band slippage or erosion. The band has become outdated as a weight loss procedure, and it not used very often.

  4. Duodenal Switch: Duodenal switch combines a sleeve gastrectomy with intestinal rerouting. It involves removing a large portion of the stomach and rerouting the small intestine to reduce the absorption of calories and nutrients. The pros of duodenal switch include significant and sustained weight loss, improved obesity-related health conditions, and greater food tolerance compared to other procedures. However, the cons include a higher risk of complications, the need for lifelong vitamin and mineral supplementation, and potential nutritional deficiencies. The duodenal switch is the procedure that will yield the most weight loss, but it is also the most complicated weight loss procedure out of the 5. Not all bariatric surgeons perform the duodenal switch procedure.

  5. Intragastric Balloon: The intragastric balloon is a non-surgical option for weight loss. It involves inserting a deflated balloon into the stomach and filling it with saline to create a feeling of fullness. The pros of intragastric balloon include its non-invasive nature, shorter recovery time, and potential for weight loss kick-start. However, the cons include temporary effects, limited weight loss compared to surgical procedures, and the possibility of balloon-related complications such as deflation or migration. The balloon is not used as often since its weight loss is much less than the other options. Ghrelin (hunger hormone) is not reduced in the balloon procedure like in the other weight loss procedures, making it less effective for the long term.

Weight loss surgery can be a life-changing option for individuals struggling with obesity. Each type of weight loss surgery has its own set of pros and cons, which should be carefully considered in consultation with a healthcare professional. You have to be ready to make a full lifestyle change if you are to commit to any weight loss procedure.

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