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Is Weight Loss Surgery The Right Choice? Is Weight Loss Surgery The Right Choice?
While it is true that obesity has reached epidemic proportions it is also true that there are more programs available to help combat obesity... Is Weight Loss Surgery The Right Choice?

by Kimberly Allen RN

While it is true that obesity has reached epidemic proportions it is also true that there are more programs available to help combat obesity than ever before.  However, even with the availability of numerous weight loss programs and products many people are unable to lose the excess weight.  In recent years the development of a variety of bariatric surgeries have been developed that give new hope to many.  However, these are serious surgeries that carry serious risks and they should only be considered after all other means to lose weight have been exhausted.
The 3 most common types of bariatric surgery are the gastric balloon, gastric band, and gastric bypass.  The gastric balloon is a temporary solution used for the purpose of jump starting weight loss.  It is a great option for people that have a BMI of 35 or less.  This procedure is done on an out patient basis. The procedure itself takes about 10 minutes and you’ll need to stay at the facility for about an hour.  This procedure is a non-surgical procedure.  The balloon is inserted via a tube or “scope” that is inserted into the stomach where it is inflated. The balloon, once inflated decreases your stomachs capacity making you feel full much sooner and preventing you from over eating.  These balloons are not meant to be a long term solution and should be left in place for no more than 6 months.  Gastric band surgery  is a little more complex and can be used as a long term solution.  There are different types of gastric bands available, though the gastric band is frequently referred to as the “lap band” that is a specific brand of gastric bands.  The gastric band is considered a long term solution for people with a BMI over 30 that have had little or no success with non-surgical weight loss programs.  Gastric bands are a hollow ring that is placed around the stomach that is filled with fluid which in turn tightens around the stomach which then reduces the stomachs capacity, The band is inserted using a procedure called keyhole surgery.  In this type of surgery the surgeon makes several small incisions as opposed to one long one which improves recovery time.  This type of surgery does require an overnight stay in the hospital and a recovery time of approximately 2weeks.  These bands are customized and can be adjusted through out the patients lifetime making it one of the best long term solutions to weight loss.
Gastric bypass surgery is by far the most complex and invasive of the three.  In gastric bypass surgery both the stomach and small intestine are involved.  This procedure is a lifelong commitment and is usually recommended for people with a BMI over 35.  This type of surgery is reserved for those that are chronically over weight and obese.  In gastric by pass surgery the stomach is reduced and the small intestine is then rerouted to inhibit full absorption when you eat.  Though this procedure demonstrates the most dramatic results with patients losing up to 80% of their extra weight it also requires the longest recovery time of 3 weeks and a significantly increased potential for complications like post surgical infections.  People who opt for gastric bypass surgery are required to commit the rest of their lives to living a healthy lifestyle, that includes eating a healthy diet and regular exercise.  People that have this surgery also have to take supplements for the rest of their lives to compensate for those lost due to the small intestine being rerouted.
There are other types of weight loss surgery available these are only the 3 most common.  When considering weight loss surgery it’s not only important to research the different types so that you can make an informed decision it is just as important to understand having weight loss surgery is not a quick fix.  If you decide to go this route you must also commit yourself to a lifelong change in lifestyle.  The degree to which you are successful depends on how committed you are to making the lifestyle changes needed for optimal success.  That commitment must include exercise as well as a change in how you approach diet and nutrition.  There are numerous behavioral counseling programs available to help you make those adjustments.

Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at  HYPERLINK “”