3 of the Most Popular Types of Weight Loss Surgery Explained

Lap band complications

If you’ve struggled with your weight with diet and exercise for years to no avail, weight loss surgery may be an answer to your woes. Gastric bypass and other weight loss surgeries may be a viable option if you are obese as defined by a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above, or if you’re overweight (your BMI is between 35 and 39.9) and you have serious health problems related to your weight.

Each year, over 200,000 weight loss surgeries performed in the United States. Among them are three of the most common types of weight loss surgery used today:

Gastric bypass surgery

Gastric bypass is perhaps the most common of all types of weight loss surgery. They’ve been successfully performed for over 50 years. In gastric bypass surgery, a surgeon will seal off a part of your upper stomach and connect it directly to your small intestine. The purpose of this is to create a short cut, of sorts, for food to travel, allowing it to bypass part of your stomach and small intestine. By cutting off these parts of the digestive process, your body will be able to absorb fewer calories from your food.

The benefit to gastric bypass types of weight loss surgery are their shorter recovery time. Generally the surgery will be performed laparoscopic, meaning the surgeon makes only very small cuts, enabling gastric bypass recovery time to be no more than five weeks for most. Likewise, many patients find gastric bypass surgery to provide some of the most immediate results. Around half of your weight loss will occur in the first six months following surgery and can continue for as long as two years following your operation. This rapid weight loss can mean you’ll see quicker improvements in any weight-related health issues you were experiencing as well.

After surgery you may need to be on a gastric bypass revision diet, however. This is because such types of weight loss surgery make it so your body can’t absorb food the way it used to. As such, you’ll be at risk for not getting adequate nutrients such as calcium and iron. In general, supplements can correct this, but you still must take care with your diet following surgery.

Gastric sleeve

Perhaps less well-known than gastric bypass surgery, gastric sleeves are among the restrictive types of weight loss surgery. A gastric sleeve operation will involve the surgeon removing around 75% of the stomach, leaving only a narrow sleeve to connect to the intestines.

Gastric sleeve surgery is a simpler operation than most types of weight loss surgery and thus offers a lower-risk method of losing weight. Since there are few gastric sleeve qualifications, this can often be the first step towards weight loss before trying other types of weight loss surgery. If necessary, the surgery can be followed up with another, such as a gastric bypass, 12 to 18 months later.

Since a sleeve gastrectomy doesn’t affect your intestines, you don’t have to worry about food absorption and malnutrition. A gastric sleeve is irreversible, however, and among the newer types of weight loss surgery available.

Gastric banding

If you’re looking for simpler or reversible types of weight loss surgery, lap banding may be the right option. With gastric banding, a surgeon will place an inflatable band around your stomach to squeeze it into two sections. These sections remain connected through only a very small channel, thus slowing the emptying of the now smaller, upper portion of your stomach. The result is that you’ll begin to feel full far sooner, for most after eating only one half to a single cup of food.

Lap band complications can occur if the band slips out of place, becomes loose, or begins to leak. Follow-up surgeries may be needed to correct this. Likewise, follow-up surgeries can be done to tighten or loosen the band as per your preference.

The upside to these simpler types of weight loss surgery are the shorter recovery time and minimal scarring that will occur. There is also always the added reassurance that no permanent alterations have been made; the band can always be removed.

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