Not everyone can be successful at dieting, and there are now various types of weight loss surgery that those with a serious weight issue are able to consider. Some are last resort, and pretty risky in themselves and usually for the very obese, while others are for milder, yet persistent weight issues. Also, some are elective, while others may be recommended by your doctor. They have some pretty scary medical names and although some of these names have passed into common usage, we don’t necessarily understand what they actually mean. Here are some of the most common types of weight loss surgery.
Most types of weight loss surgery are known as bariatric surgery, but they fall into three categories: restrictive, malabsorptive, and other. The adjustable gastric band is the most common of the restrictive group. In this procedure a band – similar to a tire’s inner tube – is inserted into the stomach and inflated, basically shrinking the size of the stomach, limiting the amount of food it can hold. It also enables a slower release of food from the gullet into the stomach. It is a reversible procedure, usually carried out by keyhole surgery in about an hour.
This is another of the restrictive forms of weight loss procedures. The operation takes about two hours and is non-reversible. The stomach is stapled, reducing it to a long thin tube, with the excess being removed. The severely reduced stomach area can no longer consume highly fatty foods, meaning weight loss is fast and considerable.
The last of the restrictive types of bariatric surgery is the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass. In this procedure the stomach is reduced to the size of an egg and connected directly to the jejunum (the middle of the small intestine), which bypasses the duodenum. The small size of the stomach means the patient feels full after eating a small meal.
This is one of the malabsorptive types and one of the most effective surgical procedures for weight loss but is reserved for the morbidly obese (BMI over 60). In the first of a two-stage process, 70% of the stomach is removed. This reduces the production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, resulting in reduced appetite. In stage two, the intestines are re-routed so that food and digestive juices from the stomach follow different paths, only to meet at the base of the small intestine, providing better management of the digestive process and controlling fat/calorie absorption and hunger.
In this procedure, a balloon is inserted into the stomach and inflated, restricting the amount of food the stomach can hold. The balloon is inserted via the mouth using an endoscope (a slim, flexible telescope) and can be removed after several months.
This weight loss surgery is a fully reversible procedure. A gastric stimulator is implanted into the abdomen where it sends electrical impulses to the stomach, initiating a ‘full’ feeling. The implant works in a similar way to a heart pacemaker. There are two types. One disrupts motility – i.e. it slows down the natural digestion process so food takes longer to clear from the stomach. The other type is called enteric nervous stimulation. This mimics the usual natural digestive process, extending the full feeling and slowing down the onset of hunger.
The last of the types of weight loss surgery is not about losing weight itself. Many morbidly obese people who successfully lose a lot a weight are left with large amounts of excess skin. Skin stretches and grows as weight is gained, but it cannot shrink in the same manner. A surprisingly large quantity of excess skin can be removed by skilled cosmetic surgeons.
All these types of weight loss surgery don’t sound very appealing, do they, but for some they are the most effective way of dealing with a serious weight problem. The good thing is that no-one can simply walk in to a clinic and ask for them. They are highly controlled procedures and a long process of consultation (and maybe even some weight loss beforehand) is usually in order. Is it something you think you would ever consider?
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