Bariatric surgery is a major decision and a huge step toward a healthier life. If you are considering bariatric surgery, we’re here to help you discover if it’s the right choice for you.
Know the Types of Bariatric Surgery
There are two types of bariatric surgery: Roux-en-Y and the Gastric Sleeve procedures. Each type is equally effective, but come with unique advantages and disadvantages. Gastric Bypass, also known as Roux-en-Y, is the most common type of weight loss surgery and the most widely performed. This procedure reduces the size of your stomach permanently by creating a small pouch that functions as the new stomach. The small intestine is then connected to the new stomach, creating a “bypass” around the old stomach.
This new stomach is about the size of golf ball and can only hold two ounces at a time–which is quite a reduction in size, considering the average stomach holds roughly two quarts. Gastric Bypass requires you to eat substantially less food, but because of the new stomach’s smaller size you will still feel full. The Roux-en-Y surgery has a high success rate and patients can usually reach their goal weight in as quickly as 12 months after surgery.
Another permanent form of bariatric surgery is the Gastric Sleeve procedure. With this surgery, part of the stomach is fashioned into a long, skinny tube, while the remaining portion of the stomach is removed. The new stomach is about one centimeter in diameter and functions just like before. Like Gastric Bypass, the stomach sleeve holds about 2 ounces. Because of the sleeve-like shape of the new stomach, food takes longer to pass through it. This allows you to feel fuller, longer while eating less. The Gastric Sleeve procedure gives patients similar results to the Roux-en-Y, with the average patient losing 70% of their excess weight in 12 to 18 months.
Know if You Are a Candidate
Weight loss surgery of any kind is a life-changing procedure for those who are severely overweight. Most surgeons require potential patients to have a BMI of 40 or greater and they must be at least 100 pounds overweight. Believe it or not, you can be too thin to qualify for bariatric surgery. Surgeons may make an exception for those who suffer from at least two obesity-related comorbidities, like type 2 diabetes or sleep apnea. However, even those patients must have a BMI of at least 35. To check your BMI use our BMI calculator. If you have struggled with losing weight through diet and exercise alone and are more than 100 pounds overweight, you may be a candidate for bariatric surgery.
Be Ready to Commit to Change
Even before bariatric surgery, you must be ready to make sacrifices and change your habits. All prospective patients typically must attend a bariatric seminar, meet with our panel of physicians, and follow a strict a pre-surgery diet. The pre-surgery diet shrinks the size of the liver and reduces overall body fat, making the surgery easier to perform. The pre-surgery diet is crucial to the surgery’s success and outcome—it sets the post-op eating habits in place to make the transition easier after the surgery.
After your surgery, your doctor will create a personalized eating plan for your post-surgery diet. Recommendations vary for each patient but the post-surgery diet has four universal phases: liquid, pureed food, soft foods, and solid foods. Follow your surgeon’s guidance on when to move from one phase to the next. Most patients have successfully reintroduced normal healthy foods into their diets about four months post-surgery. Many patients have found that certain foods upset their stomach after surgery, even if it did not cause problems before. Some foods may never become tolerable, but it is possible for the stomach to adjust as you heal. Following the post-surgery diet guidelines is vital to meeting your weight loss goals.
Healthy eating is only part of a healthy post-surgery lifestyle. As your body heals, we recommend our patients begin low-impact exercises as soon they feel ready. Exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy weight and can help you reach your weight loss goals even faster. For optimal results, try to exercise for thirty minutes a day at least four days a week.