What is Bariatric Surgery?

Diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes are sometimes not enough to achieve the weight loss required for those are who severely overweight.

In some cases, people turn to bariatric surgery to help them successfully achieve long-term weight loss.

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery, also known as metabolic surgery, is a collective term used to describe many different types of weight loss surgery.

For those classified as obese, bariatric surgery can help achieve sustained weight loss by either decreasing the size of their stomach, making changes to their digestive process, or reducing the number of calories their body can absorb.

What are the types of bariatric surgery?

There are many different types of bariatric surgery available. Which procedure is best for you will depend on individual circumstances, however, the most common types are:

Gastric balloon

This is usually the least expensive type of weight loss surgery and is bariatric surgery and is suitable for those with a BMI between 27 and 35 who may not meet the criteria for other bariatric surgery types.

The procedure involves inserting a silicone balloon into the stomach to partially fill the stomach so that you will feel full quicker after eating smaller portions of food. The procedure only takes around 15 minutes, and you will be able to go home the same day.

A gastric balloon is only temporary and will be removed after six months, so you will need to maintain healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle to achieve long-term weight loss.

Gastric band

This type of surgery involves dividing the stomach into two parts using a soft and adjustable silicone band to create a smaller pouch at the top of the stomach. The band restricts the amount of food you can eat at one time. With this surgery, most patients gradually lose between 50% to 60% of excess weight.

Gastric band surgery is reversible, has a lower risk of serious complications, and has a shorter recovery period than some weight-loss surgeries.

You will need to attend regular follow up appointments so your healthcare provider can adjust your band.

Gastric sleeve

A gastric sleeve permanently removes up to 75% of your stomach, leaving behind a narrower stomach about the same size as a banana. As a result, you’ll only be able to eat small portions of food before feeling full. The surgery also removes the part of your stomach that produces the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin, which means your appetite will decrease.

Most people who undergo this surgery will lose around 60% of their excess weight.

A gastric sleeve is a permanent and irreversible form of weight loss surgery.

Gastric bypass

This procedure involves dividing the stomach into two parts; the upper sector of your stomach is connected to your small intestine, bypassing the rest of the stomach, duodenum, and upper intestine. As a result, some of the food you eat will not be fully digested, so your body will absorb fewer calories.

This surgery leads to rapid long-term weight loss, with most people losing around 70% of excess weight.

As this procedure reduces the calories you absorb from food, it also reduces the number of vitamins and nutrients your body gets, which puts you at risk of nutritional deficiencies. As a result, you will need to take supplements for the rest of your life.

How do you qualify for bariatric surgery?

Your healthcare provider will discuss your individual circumstances, medical history, and weight loss goals to recommend a treatment that is best for you. However, to be a candidate for bariatric surgery, you will usually have to meet the following criteria:

  • A high Body Mass Index (BMI) - To qualify for bariatric surgery, you will usually need a BMI of 40 or above. Those with a BMI of 35 or above may be considered if they also have at least one other medical condition that may be improved through weight loss, for example, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea, or mobility problems.

  • Previous unsuccessful weight loss attempts - You will need to have tried non-surgical methods of losing weight. You will also need to demonstrate that these have been unsuccessful in achieving clinically beneficial weight loss, or that you have been unable to maintain this weight loss for at least six months.

  • Be medically fit enough to undergo surgery - As this is a major operation, your doctor will need to check that you are medically well enough to be administered anaesthesia, undergo the operation and fully recover from the surgery.

  • Agree to long-term follow-up - Bariatric surgery requires a life-long commitment to making healthy diet and lifestyle changes. You will need to agree to maintain these changes, attend any follow-up appointments, and take lifelong supplements to prevent nutritional deficiencies where needed. If you meet the criteria above, you will still need to undergo an extensive screening process with your healthcare provider to ensure that weight loss surgery is the most appropriate option.

At Ramsay Health Care, we offer a range of weight loss procedures, including gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, and gastric balloons. If you’d like to learn more about any of these surgeries, take a look at our weight-loss surgery page to find out more about the costs, funding options including finance and aftercare treatment available.

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