Did you know that approximately 45% of people who undergo bariatric surgery experience a life-changing reduction in their risk of heart disease within the first two years? Obesity is a global health epidemic that affects millions of people, leading to a range of health concerns and a declining quality of life. For those who have struggled with obesity and tried various weight loss methods without success, bariatric surgery offers a new beginning and a chance at a healthier, happier life.
In this blog, we'll explore the world of bariatric surgery, its procedures, and the incredible bariatric surgery benefits it offers.
Bariatric Surgery Definition
Bariatric surgery is a surgical procedure that aims to assist individuals in losing weight by modifying their digestive system. This type of surgery is typically considered when traditional weight loss methods, like diet and exercise, have not achieved substantial and lasting weight loss.
Bariatric surgery encompasses different techniques, each with its specific approach to helping patients reduce their weight.
Bariatric Surgery Procedures:
- Gastric Bypass: Gastric Bypass surgery involves the creation of a small stomach pouch and rerouting part of the small intestine. This procedure limits food intake and decreases calorie absorption.
- Sleeve Gastrectomy: In this method, a large portion of the stomach is removed, leaving a smaller, banana-shaped stomach. It reduces appetite and the amount of food one can eat.
- Adjustable Gastric Banding (Lap-Band): This procedure involves positioning a silicone band around the upper section of the stomach to create a smaller pouch. The band can be altered to regulate food intake.
- Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch: It is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of a portion of the stomach and redirecting the small intestine. This surgery combines both restriction and malabsorption techniques.
Hidden Bariatric Surgery Benefits
While weight loss is the most common benefit of bariatric surgery, there are several other advantages that you may not be aware of:
Drastic Weight Loss
- Bariatric surgery can lead to long-lasting and substantial weight loss, often reaching a healthy body weight.
- Long-term studies have demonstrated that after undergoing surgery, many patients can maintain their weight loss for years successfully. This is often more challenging to achieve with other weight loss methods.
Improvement in Health Conditions
- Resolution of Type 2 Diabetes: Bariatric surgery can cause the remission of Type 2 diabetes in many patients, reducing or eliminating the need for medications.
- Reduction in Hypertension: Surgery can positively impact hypertension, as it often leads to an improvement or normalisation of high blood pressure. This, in turn, reduces the risk of heart disease.
- Remission of Sleep Apnea: Many patients find relief from their sleep apnea symptoms, which leads to improved sleep quality and overall health.
Enhanced Quality of Life
- Improved Mobility: Bariatric surgery-induced weight loss can enhance physical activity levels, increasing mobility and overall fitness.
- Better Mental Health: Many patients often experience an improvement in their self-esteem, reduced feelings of depression, and less anxiety after achieving significant weight loss.
- Reducing Obesity-Related Mortality: Studies have shown that individuals who undergo bariatric surgery have a lower risk of premature death caused by obesity and its related health conditions.
- Decreased Healthcare Costs: As health improves and the need for medications and medical interventions decreases, patients can experience substantial savings in healthcare expenses.
- Increased Productivity: When we prioritise our health and have higher energy levels, it often translates to improved performance at work. Additionally, caring for ourselves can help minimise the number of sick days we need to take.
Risks and Considerations
While there are significant bariatric surgery benefits, it's important to note that, like any surgical procedure, risks are involved. These may include surgical complications(Surgical complications are rare but possible, generally less than 1% risk of bleeding or leak (infection)) and the possibility of nutritional deficiencies.
- Preoperative Evaluation: Before undergoing bariatric surgery, patients undergo a thorough evaluation that encompasses physical and psychological assessments. This important step ensures that individuals are appropriate candidates for the process and are adequately prepared for the lifestyle changes that will follow.
- Lifestyle Changes Post-Surgery: Successful long-term results from bariatric surgery require significant lifestyle changes, including:
- Diet and Nutrition: Post-surgery, patients should adhere to a carefully structured diet that gradually transitions from liquids to soft foods and eventually solid foods. It is important to prioritize nutrient-rich foods to prevent any deficiencies.
- Exercise and Physical Activity: Staying active and incorporating regular exercise into your routine is crucial for not only maintaining weight loss but also for overall health. It's important to prioritize establishing a consistent exercise regimen.
- Psychological Support: Numerous individuals face emotional challenges during their weight loss journey, such as struggles with body image or food addiction. Access to psychological support and counseling can be immensely helpful throughout this process.
The Importance of a Support System
A strong support system is crucial for long-term success after undergoing bariatric surgery. This life-altering experience requires support from various sources:
- Family and Friends: The support and understanding of family and friends can make a significant impact. Loved ones can offer emotional support, lend a helping hand with meals, and motivate physical activity.
- Medical Professionals: Surgeons, dietitians, and psychologists assist patients throughout the surgical process. They provide necessary guidance before and after the operation, ensuring patients are on track with their recovery and addressing any questions or concerns. Regular check-ups and consultations are integral to monitoring progress and providing ongoing support.
- Support Groups: Being a part of a support group offers individuals a valuable sense of community. It provides the opportunity to connect with others who have gone through similar experiences, sharing challenges and successes. This shared understanding fosters genuine support from those who truly comprehend your journey.
Bariatric surgery offers more than just weight loss; it provides an opportunity for a fresh start in life. The positive impact of this procedure extends beyond mere numbers on the scale. It can lead to improved health, enhanced quality of life, and long-term financial savings. However, approaching bariatric surgery requires realistic expectations, a willingness to embrace lifestyle changes, and the presence of a strong support system.