How Safe are Surgeries for Losing Weight?

Surgeries for losing weight come in many forms, each with their own set of pros and cons. Doctors and researchers are constantly exploring how to make weight-loss surgery safer and more effective.

 

Obesity in the United States isn’t simply a disease, it’s an epidemic. Studies show that in the US nearly 40 percent of adults (20 or over) are obese with around eight percent being severely obese. Another 32 percent of Americans are overweight. The sad fact is that America is one of the most overweight countries in the world and has been for some time.

For Americans who are overweight diet, exercise and lifestyle changes are key factors to reversing their poor health. But those remedies won’t work for someone suffering from obesity. Seeking surgery for their obesity is the only way to stop in its tracks. But how safe are the different types of surgeries? Though not without risks, the potential rewards for undergoing weight-loss surgery far outweigh them. BMCC of Colorado aims to set the record straight about the benefits of weight-loss surgery.

What Types Of Weight Loss Surgeries Are Out There?

Surgeries for losing weight come in many forms, each with their own set of pros and cons. Doctors and researchers are constantly exploring how to make weight-loss surgery safer and more effective. Here are three of the most common types of weight-loss surgery with their own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Adjustable Gastric Banding

This restrictive surgery requires the doctors to tie an elastic band around the stomach, making two pouches. A small space connects the upper and lower sections and allows food to travel from top to bottom. One of the safest procedures, it leaves a small scar, the recovery time quick and the rubber band can be removed.

The give here is that weight loss is much less dramatic and it’s easier for the weight to come back. A side effect is vomiting if too much food is ingested too quickly. The band can slide, break or become loose.  

Sleeve Gastrectomy

A surgeon removes up to 75 percent of the stomach and forms the remaining 25 percent into a narrow sleeve connecting to the intestines. The surgery is relatively simple compared to some others and offers patients a low-risk way to lose weight. Because your stomach is smaller, you simply cannot eat as much. It also triggers hormones that help with weight loss as well.

The sleeve gastrectomy is a new procedure so its long term risks and effects are still being evaluated. Known risks to this point are infection, sleeve leak, and blood clots.   

Gastric Bypass Surgery (Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass)

Going this route means your surgeon divides your stomach into an upper and lower section. The upper part is called “a pouch” and is no bigger than a golf ball. This is where the food you eat will go after you swallow. The surgeon will connect the pouch to your intestines providing it somewhere to go after it leaves the stomach. You end up absorbing fewer calories this way. Weight loss is dramatic and immediate, with around half of it occurring in six to eight months after surgery. 

A negative side effect is that your body will need nutrients from other sources because the stomach can’t absorb them. People undergoing GBS must take supplements for the rest of their lives. Also, because the surgery is complicated, the risks of blood clots, infection and gallstones increase.

 

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