If your weight refuses to budge even after extensive dieting and exercising, you might find yourself considering bariatric surgery.
Weight loss surgery limits the amount of food you eat (restrictive surgeries). In some cases, it also limits the nutrients you absorb (malabsorptive surgeries). Regardless of the option you choose, bariatric surgery can help you shed extra weight and manage obesity-related medical conditions like obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes, and risk factors for stroke and heart disease. Whether you’re looking for weight loss surgery London or Miami, there are options suitable for you.
However, it is important to know that weight loss surgery alone isn’t enough to help you lose weight. It is just one part of a long-term treatment plan that includes mental health care, exercise, and nutrition guidelines. If you’re opting for surgery, you should be willing to make drastic lifestyle changes to ensure lasting results.
But is weight loss surgery really for you? To help you come to a decision, here are the most important things you should know.
Who qualifies for weight loss surgery?
Bariatric surgery isn’t recommended for everyone who wants to lose weight. You might be a candidate if you:
- Are morbidly obese (with a BMI of over 40)
- Have a BMI of over 35 and some obesity-related chronic medical problems like heart disease, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes
- Are 18-75 years old and willing to make significant lifestyle changes
Adolescents and adults with lower BMIs might also be allowed to opt for bariatric surgery, depending on the severity and type of their obesity-related illness.
Benefits of bariatric surgery
Different kinds of bariatric surgery have different specific advantages, but you can generally expect to lose weight for 1.5-2 years after the surgery. After this time period, many regain some of the weight they lost, but only a few regain all of it.
Weight loss surgery improves obesity-related medical conditions. Conditions like diabetes improve quickly, while others, like high blood pressure, take some time.
Some side effects and risks you can expect to experience after a weight loss surgery include
- Dizziness, increased gas, excessive sweating, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and bloating
- Blood clots, bleeding, leaks from the stitches, and infections
- Long-term problems like dumping syndrome where the food moves through the small intestine very quickly, causing diarrhea, faintness, sweating, weakness, and nausea. Nearly 50% of people who opt for weight loss surgery suffer from dumping syndrome.
- Gallstones due to rapid weight loss
How to determine if surgery is for you
A healthcare team is your best bet to help you figure out if surgery is for you. Your team will include your doctor, anesthesiologist, surgeon, dietitian, psychiatrist, and other specialists if you have other medical conditions.
Your team will work together to walk you through the process and explain what to expect at every stage. They will address medical, psychological, and behavioral concerns to determine if you’re ready to proceed with the surgery.
You will have to sit for a medical exam that tests for obesity-related conditions like liver or kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and sleep apnea. You will also be tested for problems that can make the surgery complicated.
In most cases, you can’t have surgery if you have blood-clotting disorders or conditions that can be worsened because of the use of anesthesia, including heart disease.
Psychological & behavioral concerns
Weight loss surgery will only be successful if you’re willing to change your behavior towards exercise and eating. Apart from that, you also need to be mentally healthy, especially since you need to stick to the treatment plan. For this reason, your team will identify behavioral and psychological risk factors and evaluate if surgery is the right option for you. In most cases, they will talk to you about the following:
- How motivated you are to make lifestyle changes and learn about healthy nutrition. Your team will keep track of how well you can follow these changes.
- Your weight-loss history, exercises or diets you’ve previously used, and challenges you faced when losing weight.
- If you have mood disorders associated with obesity like bipolar disorder, anxiety, or depression since they might make it tough to manage the weight. Untreated mood disorders also make it challenging to follow new exercise and eating habits.
- If you have any eating disorders or irregular eating behaviors like unplanned snacks between meals, nighttime eating, and binge-eating.
- If you have a history of drug and alcohol use and smoking. If these addictions are unmanaged or untreated, then you might be prohibited from opting for the surgery.
What to expect before surgery
If all goes well and your team finds that surgery is the right option for you, they will come up with a treatment plan that will include:
- Menu planning, vitamin supplements, and nutrition guidelines
- An exercise plan and goals. A specialist or nurse will guide you through an appropriate fitness plan.
- Psychotherapy if need be. You might have to go for drug treatment or therapy to treat depression, an eating disorder, or other similar mental health problem
- Weight loss. You might be ordered to lose some weight with exercise and diet before you can opt for bariatric surgery
- Some form of assistance to help you quit smoking
- Treatment for other conditions if need be
How well you follow these guidelines will prove to your team how motivated you are to stick to the provided guidelines after surgery. Note that your surgery can be delayed or even canceled if your team thinks that you’re not medically or psychologically ready,. This might also be the decision made if you have gained pounds during the evaluation period or you failed to make the required changes in your exercise and eating habits.
Is Weight Loss Surgery For Me?
As you’ve seen, weight loss surgery can make an immense difference to someone's well-being. Weight loss can be rapid and health issues alleviated. However, all surgery comes with some risk, and the success of the process will need your commitment to embracing a healthy lifestyle.