What is Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric Surgery is also known as “Weight Loss or Metabolic Surgery”. This is the only proven effective long term weight loss solution for majority of morbidly obese people. This is not a cosmetic surgery like liposuction but a metabolic surgery with very high cure rate of associated medical problems.
Surgery causes physical and chemical changes in the body and alters the digestive process so as to achieve rapid weight loss. These changes decrease hunger and improve body’s response to its own glucose metabolism with often immediate cure or significant improvement of diabetes.
Who is Bariatric surgery for?
Obesity has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a disease. Obesity is a complex multifactorial problem and not just a life style disorder. Most patients with morbid obesity struggle with maintaining a healthy weight throughout their life. While all patients suffering from Obesity need to follow a healthy diet and exercise, Bariatric surgery has been proven scientifically as the single most effective method to treat morbid obesity and its complications.
Which patients really are candidates to undergo Bariatric Surgery?
While it is difficult to measure Obesity using one single method, however one simple way to do so is measuring the Body Mass Index (BMI) which really is a ratio of the weight and height of the person. Bariatric surgery typically helps patients who are more than about 25 Kg above their ideal body weight for their height. Especially if they have other metabolic problems such as Diabetes, surgery will be very beneficial as surgery will help treat those also. There are certain guidelines for patients who are reasonable candidates to undergo this surgery. For Asian patients the recommendation for undergoing Bariatric surgery is either BMI greater than 37.5, or 32.5 with weight associated medical problems. Apart from weight, several health conditions such as High blood pressure, Diabetes, High cholesterol, Fatty Liver, Asthma, Sleep Apnea, Arthritis (joint pains), Infertility, PCOD, can be cured by Bariatric surgery so patients suffering from these should consider surgery.
Obesity and the associated metabolic syndrome, increases the risk of heart attack and stroke several folds. Obesity also impairs both the mental health and physical health causing a poor Quality of Life. It often becomes a vicious cycle where a patient is not able to exercise and keeps putting on weight simultaneously leading to depression and a poor appetite. Bariatric surgery often provides the push needed to get out of this vicious cycle.
Patients planned for Bariatric surgery are also expected to have already tried losing weight by healthy diet and exercise. Patients who do well after surgery are those who understand the surgery and are ready to make life long changes with the help of Bariatric surgery.
It is also important to understand that Bariatric surgery is a surgery that works by making changes in the GI tract and it is not a cosmetic surgery where fat is removed from the body. So patients undergoing Bariatric surgery require a thorough evaluation before surgery. They also need to accept that this surgery is not a magic pill but a life-long process that they need to commit to and understand and invest in for a healthy and active life.