If you’ve long been battling excessive weight and have tried many weight loss options without finding one that works, bariatric surgery may be a viable solution for you. With weight loss surgery people can expect to lose 50 percent or more of excess body weight. Most shed about 30 to 40 percent of it within six months after a procedure, though you can still lose weight for up to two years after surgery. Many patients also see some weight-related health conditions improve or go away altogether.
Before being considered for the surgery, you must meet a few conditions:
- Your body mass index (BMI) must be 40 or above, or your BMI is 35-plus and you have a serious medical problem related to excess weight, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea.
- Previous attempts to lose weight through diet and exercise didn’t work.
- Your weight affects your health, according to a physician.
- You are over 18.
If you are confirmed as a candidate for surgery, you’ll attend a nutrition consultation where a provider will discuss what you’ll need to do for the lifelong journey that is weight loss. Think of surgery as a tool that helps you achieve your goal, not the solution. Before the surgery, you’ll complete six months of nutritionist-guided weight loss and lifestyle modifications, mostly involving dietary adjustments and exercise. You’ll also go on a liquid diet for two weeks before the procedure.
Examples of Surgical Options
There are a few common techniques to choose from with help from your provider:
In gastric bypass surgery, the stomach is divided into a smaller upper pouch and a larger lower pouch. The small intestine is then divided and connected to just the small pouch, bypassing the larger section. This leaves a smaller space for food to go, meaning you’ll feel full after smaller meals. It also reroutes the way that food is digested to change your gut’s hormones, reversing one of the main ways obesity causes of type 2 diabetes.
In vertical sleeve gastrectomy 80 percent of the stomach is removed. As with gastric bypass, the stomach can now fill up much faster. It also improves or eliminates diabetes. This procedure is considered less risky than the gastric bypass, with very similar weight loss and outcomes.
Be Prepared for the Long Haul
After surgery, you will need to maintain your pre-surgery lifestyle changes in order to keep the weight off, particularly in the first few months. Those who stick to their modifications can lose up to 15 to 20 pounds per month over the first six months. (It will take greater effort after that because the body’s metabolism will readjust.)
Plan to get at least 30 to 40 uninterrupted minutes of exercise every day. And keep a water bottle with you throughout the day so you get at least 64 ounces of fluid each day.
Should you choose bariatric surgery, with dedication and a commitment to the long term, you can look forward to a healthier future. For more information, click here.