What is Weight Loss Surgery?
Weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery is performed on people who are severely obese. It involves reducing the stomach’s size by either by implanting a medical device, surgical removal of a part of your stomach or attaching the small intestine to a small pouch of the stomach (gastric bypass surgery). This explanation should tell you that such a surgery must involve many side-effects, and you should consider getting it done only after thoroughly examining its pros and cons. It is said to have many health benefits besides loss of weight such as recovery from diabetes, improvement of cardiovascular functions and lowering of mortality rate.
Weight loss surgery involves altering the natural digestive process so that the condition of chronic obesity can be prevented. The idea of the surgery was to alter the body’s biochemistry in a way that allows the patient to eat without absorbing a lot of calories. Interrupting a natural process leads to many serious side effects and with the bariatric surgery, the absorption of essential nutrients into the body gets obstructed leading to many problems.
Side Effects and Risks of Weight Loss Surgery
- Post-op Complications – Some patients who have undergone weight loss operations need many follow-up operations to prevent the harmful effects of certain complications. They can be infections, breaking of staple line (equipment used for making the intestine smaller), hernia and stretching of stomach outlets (after the stomach returns to its normal size).
- Vomiting – It is commonly observed in patients on whom weight loss surgery has been performed. The restrictive surgery of the stomach disables it from stretching enough to absorb those food particles that have not been chewed well.
- Malnutrition – Osteoporosis, anaemia and metabolic bone diseases can result in those on whom weight loss surgery has been performed. They need to maintain their nutritional level by taking vitamin and mineral supplements.
- Dumping Syndrome – Since the contents of the stomach begin to move too fast after the surgery, it can lead to problems such as sweating, nausea, weakness, feel like fainting and at times, even diarrhoea. Patients cannot eat sweets without becoming very weak.
- Gallstones – One-third of patients having undergone bariatric surgery develop gallstones. Gallstones are cholesterol and other materials that get formed in the gallbladder.
- Need to postpone pregnancy – After a woman has been operated for this surgery, she needs to avoid getting pregnant till her weight stabilises. With rapid weight loss and malnutrition, the health of a developing foetus can be harmed.
- Permanent lifestyle changes – The patients on whom extensive bypass has been performed need to be constantly monitored for the rest of their lives. They not only need to modify their diet and exercise but also regular dosage of vitamin and mineral supplements.
The weight loss surgery is performed after many tests and considerations. Patients are asked to show proof that all other weight loss techniques have been tried by them but to no avail. A psychological evaluation is also undertaken to determine whether the patient would have any problem with the change of body image after the surgery is over. Surgeons make it mandatory for a patient who wants to have weight loss surgery to follow strict dietary, medical and exercise guidelines. Additionally, the condition of your heart and hormonal systems are also studied for making sure nothing can come in the way of successful operation.
Bariatic surgery can be useful for some patients but you really need to take into consideration the side effects and risk factors before deciding about getting it done. You really want to make sure whether the benefits of such a surgery really outweigh the resultant lifelong complications or not!
Source: Onlymyhealth editorial team Oct 21, 2011
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