What to know before considering weight loss surgery

By Matthew Fourman MD, FACS, FASMBS ProMedica Weight Loss Surgery

        Weight loss surgery can be life-changing for those looking to lose weight and better control weight-related conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. But what exactly is weight loss surgery, and what should you consider when making an informed decision if surgery is right for you?
        Weight loss surgery is often an option for individuals with a BMI (body mass index) of 35 or higher. A common misconception is that only those with severe obesity will benefit from bariatric surgery, which is simply not true. There are several benefits related to weight loss surgery for those who qualify.
        Benefits of weight loss surgery
        While weight loss may seem like the biggest benefit of surgery, several non-scale-related benefits can greatly improve quality of life.
        Having weight loss surgery can lead to the prevention or reversal of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, heart disease and other obesity-related health conditions. Female fertility may also improve after weight loss surgery. Some patients also report improvements in pain related to osteoarthritis, acid reflux and GERD.
        Understanding the procedures
        The two most common types of weight loss surgery are sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass.
        In a sleeve gastrectomy, the stomach capacity is reduced by around 80% to create a new, smaller stomach that holds less food and liquid. The reduction in stomach size decreases a major hunger hormone and allows for a greater feeling of fullness.
        Gastric bypass surgery changes the route that food takes once consumed, which changes how nutrients are used by the body. It also changes hormone patterns in the intestine. This procedure first creates a new smaller stomach out of the existing stomach that is about the size of a large egg. Then, a section of the intestine is cut and connected to the new stomach and reconnected to create a new pathway for the nutrients through the intestine.
        Both procedures can be done with minimally invasive surgery, allowing for faster healing, less pain and minimal scarring. Recovery time is often very quick. Typically, surgery requires a one-night stay in the hospital and for most patients, they can get back to their normal routine and work within two weeks.
        Speaking with a surgeon about medical history, surgical history and personal preference are all important factors in deciding the right procedure for each individual.
        Other considerations
        It’s important to know that weight loss surgery isn’t a “quick fix.” When going through the process, individuals must be ready to commit to healthy eating and exercising before and after surgery. Many programs offer resources and support to help each patient achieve their goals.
        When looking into weight loss surgery, it can be overwhelming to sort through all the information online. The best ways to learn more about weight loss surgery include listening to an informational seminar from a weight loss surgery program, speaking with a surgeon or attending a support group to talk with others who have had surgery.


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