Weight Loss Operations

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Weight Loss Operations

Weight loss operations are typically only carried out on people considered to be morbidly obese. Morbidly obese people are those whose BMI (Body Mass Index) is greater than 40. The ideal BMI ranges between 20 and 25. A weight loss operation may also be carried out on an individual who is not morbidly obese but has a co-morbid condition that is exacerbated by weight. The co-morbid obesity conditions include diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes), gall stones, heart disease, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and infertility. The individual must however have a BMI greater than 35.

Weight loss operations are categorized into 3 types namely; predominantly restrictive procedures, predominantly malabsorptive procedures and mixed procedures. The restrictive procedures reduce the stomach size either by removing a portion of the stomach or by closing off a section. Malabsorptive procedures shorten the length of the small intestine (where majority of food absorption takes place). These procedures may also change where the small intestine attaches to the stomach. The mixed procedures combine restriction and malabsorption to help with the weight loss.

Restrictive procedures include sleeve gastrectomy, gastric banding and vertical banded gastroplasty. Malabsorptive procedures include biliopancreatic diversion and endoluminal sleeve. Mixed procedures are gastric bypass surgery and sleeve gastrectomy with duodenal switch. The most commonly performed weight loss operations are the mixed ones that combine both restriction and malabsorption techniques. This is because these procedures have proven to be the most effective at causing weight loss.

Weight loss operations, like other operations have some risks and complications. The surgical risks include internal bleeding, infection, blood clots in the lungs, and in the worst case scenario, the patient doesn’t make it through the surgery. Of course these risks are very minima,l but they can occur in any major surgery.

Other risks or complications that may occur after surgery include anastomotic leaks (leaks in the new connections in the stomach), marginal ulcers, nutritional deficiencies, gall stones, nausea and vomiting, dumping syndrome and excess skin that results from the rapid weight loss (getting rid of the skin may require body contouring surgery).

However, the benefits of weight loss operations usually outweigh the risks. The most important benefit, which is the main reason for the surgery is weight loss (it has been reported that majority of patients lose more than 60% of the excess weight after surgery)

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Another important benefit of these operations is the improvement or the resolution of conditions that are related to obesity (co-morbidities) such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obstructive sleep apnea. Other benefits include possibility of increased life span and better quality of life.

When weighing the different weight loss operations, it is crucial to keep in mind that this is a big decision. The operation is not a quick fix and will require lifestyle changes that may be hard to stick to. After the surgery, it is important to exercise regularly, eat well ensuring you get the proper nutrients and there can certainly be no binge eating.