Blog A Guide To Bariatric Surgery: Types, Processes, And Outcomes

A Guide To Bariatric Surgery: Types, Processes, And Outcomes

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, stands out in 2023 and beyond as the most effective and evidence-based treatment for obesity across all BMI (body mass index) classes and can help mitigate the risks of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other weight-related complications.

Over time, the surgery has become safer and more accessible, with improved devices, techniques, and outcomes. The mortality rate of bariatric surgery is less than 0.1%, and the average hospital stay can be as short as 2 to 3 days.

To learn more about what this surgery is, let’s define it further. 


Overview of Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery is a weight loss surgery that involves making changes to the digestive system to limit food absorption or intake and to treat obesity and its related health problems. It is intended for people who are very overweight and have not been able to get results with diet and exercise regimens.

Overview of Bariatric Surgery

It can offer many benefits that include reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other complications. As such, they must be done by qualified surgeons, and you must research where you get the surgery before you go.

Different Types of Bariatric Surgeries

There are four main types of bariatric surgery conducted today. They include:

  • Gastric Bypass– This procedure creates a small pouch in the upper part of the stomach and connects to the lower part of the small intestine, bypassing most of your stomach and the upper part of the small intestine. The goal is to reduce the amount of food that can be eaten and the calories and nutrients that can be absorbed.
  • Sleeve Gastrectomy– The bariatric surgery gastric sleeve procedure removes most of the stomach, leaving a narrow tube-shaped section, to reduce the amount of food that can be eaten and the production of the hormone that activates appetite.
  • Gastric Band– This procedure sees an adjustable band placed around the upper part of the stomach to create a small pouch. The band can be tightened or loosened to control the opening size from the pouch to the rest of the stomach. The goal is to limit the amount of food that can be eaten and the speed of digestion. 
  • Duodenal Switch– This surgery removes most of the stomach and attaches the remaining part to the last part of the small intestine, bypassing most of the small intestine. The aim is to reduce the amount of food that can be eaten and the calories and nutrients that can be absorbed. The surgery also changes the balance of hormones and bacteria in the gut, which may impact metabolism and appetite.

Each type of surgery has its advantages and disadvantages. The best type depends on your individual needs, situation, and goals. 

Preparing for Bariatric Surgery: A Step-by-Step Guide

Prepping for bariatric surgery will require that you know it will call for a lifestyle change afterward. That is the biggest part. 

But before you go through with it, consider the following steps:

  • Consult your primary care provider or doctor and undergo physical, psychological, and nutritional assessments to determine your eligibility for the surgery. It is also time to discuss the risks, benefits, and options.
  • Enroll in the bariatric surgery program and attend all classes and meetings to learn about diets, exercise, lifestyle changes, and expected surgery outcomes.
  • Start exercising and eating healthy at least three to six months before the surgery to acclimate to your new lifestyle.
  • Arrange for transportation and support for the post-operative phase of your change.

Last, but not least, follow everything you see in the preoperative instructions to ensure you undergo surgery in the right condition.

Recovery and Aftercare Following Bariatric Surgery

Recovery time depends on the type of surgery, the individual’s health, and potential complications. Generally, your hospital stay is one to three days after the surgery, with the resumption of normal activities four to six weeks later.

Some care tips you will receive include:

  • Take prescribed medication if experiencing pain or discomfort at the incision site or from the gas used during the surgery.
  • Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Gong to follow-up appointments to monitor your health, weight, and general progress.
  • Build a healthy lifestyle, with exercise and nutrition-rich food as the foundation. 
  • Take the opportunity to meet others who have undergone the surgery to benefit from shared experiences and community.

Long-term Outcomes and Success Stories

The long-term outcomes depend on the type of surgery done, the individual’s health, and lifestyle changes after the surgery. Some of them are:

  • Significant and durable weight loss- Bariatric surgery can help people lose up to 70% of their excess weight and maintain it for 10 years or more.
  • Improved health and quality of life- The surgery can reduce risks of obesity-related health problems like heart disease, sleep apnea, diabetes, and more.
  • Possible complications and side effects- you could experience negative side effects like bleeding, infection, leaks, malnutrition, dumping syndrome, or blood clots, which can affect your recovery and health.
  • Lifelong lifestyle changes- bariatric surgery is a jumping-off point to a lifestyle that emphasizes paying close attention to a healthy diet. Your lifestyle will inevitably change to accommodate the implications of the surgery.

To aid in the recovery journey, you can talk to your healthcare provider about other individuals who have gone through the same bariatric surgery journey. It helps to know what others have experienced so you can know what awaits on your journey. There are plenty of support groups where you can connect directly with recovering patients for a more pleasant journey.

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