Losing weight for some can be a constant, lifelong struggle and one that affects more than just the overweight person in positive and negative ways.
Personally knowing multiple family members who have had to battle with their weight on a daily basis for years on end I understand the pressure that is placed on people to look a certain way not only for their physical appearance but also for their physical and mental health.
But sometimes it is not as easy as just going on another fad diet or exercising. Sometimes there comes a point when you have tried everything there is to try and you just need to ask for help.
That’s when the conversation about weight loss surgery could be brought up. Bariatric (weight loss) surgery for obesity is often considered when other treatments have failed.
There are various forms of weight loss surgery available that are becoming more and more available to those that need it everyday and although there is a stigma surrounding weight loss surgery patients suggesting that they are failures or that they are just taking the easy way out, this is far from the truth. Bariatric Surgery is a clinically effective intervention for moderately to severely obese people compared with non-surgical interventions.
Gastric Sleeve Surgery (a popular single-stage procedure for the treatment of morbid obesity) and Gastric Bypass Surgery (the ‘quickest’ procedure for losing weight), have become popular choices for patients seeking excellent weight loss in a straightforward procedure that doesn’t require the maintenance and long-term complication rates of a the Lap band Surgery (the most common type of weight loss surgery). But what are all these surgeries?
Sleeve vs. Bypass vs. Lap Band
There are several things to consider when comparing gastric sleeve surgery, gastric bypass surgery and gastric band surgery. Unlike the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band (Lap Band), the first two two operations are both proven to be safely permanent, reduce hunger, and lead to the highest percentage of weight loss.
Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Gastric Sleeve Surgery involves removing part of the patient’s stomach and making a narrow tube or ‘sleeve’ out of the remaining part. The new stomach is much smaller than the original meaning the patient will eat less food, feel full sooner and be less hungry.
The average weight loss as a result of gastric bypass surgery is 60% of excess weight.
The Gastric Sleeve surgery typically leads to patients losing 30%-50% of their excess weight in the first six months (a faster rate than that of Lap Band patients) and this weight loss has been known to continue for up to two years after surgery. This type of weight loss surgery also allows patients the option to follow up with the Bypass for further weight loss results. On the other hand, Gastric Sleeve Surgery can be the first step in Bypass Surgery for high risk patients in that it allows them to be in surgery (thus, under anesthesia) for a shorter amount of time and start their weight loss journey prior to taking the full step of the bypass. Often, as a result of the sleeve, the full bypass surgery is not necessary due to fantastic weight loss results after the sleeve surgery alone.
There are a great number of listings online that outline the ‘things you need to know about Gastric Sleeve Surgery’ for more information.
Gastric Bypass Surgery
Gastric Bypass Surgery helps patients lose weight by changing how their stomach and small intestine handle the food that is consumed. After surgery, patients stomachs are smaller and they feel full with less food. The food that is consumed will no longer go into some parts of the stomach and small intestine that absorb food; because of this, their body will not get all of the calories from the food that they eat.
There a two steps to gastric bypass surgery; the first involves cutting the stomach to make it smaller and the second involves connecting a small part of the small intestine to a small hole in the remaining stomach pouch.
The average weight loss as a result of gastric bypass surgery is 70% of excess weight.
This type of weight loss surgery usually leads to the fastest, most dramatic results and can result in rapid recovery from a variety of weight-related afflictions, such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and even diabetes and the results of the surgery tend to last.
As for the sleeve surgery there are also endless articles online providing information on ‘what you need to know about the Gastric Bypass Surgery’.
Lap Band Surgery
The Lap Band (or gastric band) surgery involves an adjustable gastric band made of soft silicone that is essentially positioned around the upper part of the stomach to create a small pouch allowing for approximately 15-20 ml of filling. The remaining, unuseable stomach lies beneath the band.
Lap Banding produces weight loss in two ways; the first through the restriction of the amount of food that the stomach can hold at any time by inducing an early feeling of satiety and secondly by slowing down the emptying of the pouch which therefore decreases food intake.
The average weight loss as a result of gastric banding surgery is 50% of excess weight.
While Lap Bands have been proven to be an effective solution for obese patients who have not achieved successful weight loss goals with other options (non-surgical), the Gastric Band procedure is relatively new and as it does involve a long-term implant it should be considered very carefully.
What surgery is the best?
This is a tricky question and the answer really differs case by case, however from the outside looking in on various family members who have gone through the three different forms of bariatric surgery I have formed my own personal opinion.
In terms of the quickness, effectiveness and simplicity of the procedure I personally favour the gastric sleeve surgery. It allows patients to simply have the surgery and within three weeks post op they are essentially living their lives as normal (their new ‘normal’ that is..). With the obvious changes of a much smaller diet the gastric sleeve surgery allows patients to eat what they would like without any risky or annoying side effect but forces them to cut back too much smaller portion sizes, encouraging high rates of weight loss in short periods of time.
Due to the fact that the gastric sleeve is only one procedure (rather than two for the gastric bypass) and that there is no implant being left in the body (like the gastric band) the gastric sleeve surgery seems to be the most risk free and simple.
As I already mentioned, going in for surgery of any sort is not easy and making the decision to changes one’s life completely for a surgery as life altering as bariatric surgery is a tough one. However, the benefits far outweigh the initial negatives.
For someone that may have struggled with their weight for their entire life, the option of bariatric surgery can be a last resort but one that is necessary.
Personally I am supportive of such surgeries for the fact that they do allow overweight people to have a second chance but they do also force said person to change the way they live their life. All of the above surgeries, although not technically reversible, can stop being effective if the patient returns to their old ways.
The stomach has been stretched once and it can be stretched again!