The Adjustable Gastric Band
This option provides many patients with results that are similar to a gastrectomy or gastric bypass, but does not involve incisions in the stomach itself. Rather than changing the shape of the stomach, the gastric band is simply placed around the uppermost portion of the stomach and tightened, thereby limiting the amount of food that can be stored and digested at any one time. Consequently, patients are likely to have a decreased appetite, aiding them in their future dieting.
On average, patients lose a pound per week with the gastric band, giving gradual but effective results for long-term weight loss. This surgery is also easier and safer than comparable options, making it an ideal procedure for patients who want to lose weight but do not feel the need for a more drastic option. Still, not everyone can expect similar results with a band - some patients see little to no change afterward, and the risk of revision surgery, though small, is still present.
The Sleeve Gastrectomy
Although slightly more involved than the gastric band, a sleeve gastrectomy is still relatively conservative in bariatric surgery. In this procedure, the stomach is made smaller through the permanent removal of about 60 percent of its mass. After surgery, the stomach is significantly thinner, looking similar to a shirt sleeve or banana. Most patients feel a drastic reduction in their appetite after treatment, forcing them to change their dietary habits accordingly.
Sleeve gastrectomy often results in patients losing about three pounds each week, leading to noticeable changes after just a few months. Although the procedure is not without its risks, the chances of complication are rare. Some patients may experience bleeding or leaking from the surgical area soon after surgery, at which point they should return to their doctor as soon as possible for intervention. Acid reflux is a more common side effect, but can be minimized through over-the-counter or prescribed medication.
The Gastric Bypass
Like the sleeve gastrectomy, a gastric bypass essentially creates a small stomach through which food passes. However, this procedure also reroutes the stomach in a way that alters how and where calories are absorbed. First, the stomach is separated into two pieces, where the larger piece is left in the abdomen but is no longer connected to the intestines. The smaller piece is then rerouted, bypassing about six feet of small intestine. Not only will patients have a reduced appetite, but a smaller percentage of calories will be absorbed from the stomach and intestine.
Weight loss from a gastric bypass is gradual, similar to a gastrectomy, but often tends to be more dramatic. Some patients lose up to 75 percent of their excess weight after treatment, at a rate of three to four pounds per week. Because a gastric bypass limits how food is absorbed, many patients will need to complement their diets with certain nutritional supplements such as calcium and iron.
A Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (BPDDS) is similar to a gastric bypass, but it bypasses an even greater length of intestine to further limit the amount of nutrients and calories absorbed. After reducing the stomach’s size like in a sleeve gastrectomy, the remaining stomach is rerouted toward the end of the intestine. As a result, digestive enzymes only mix with the food for a limited time, preventing fats from being absorbed by the body.
BPDDS tends to create the most substantial weight loss, and should therefore be reserved for patients who need to lose an extreme amount of weight. Due to the procedure’s risks and long-term effects, such as nutritional deficiencies, patients and their doctors must evaluate whether the health benefits of such weight loss are preferable to the surgery’s own health effects.
Choosing the Right Treatment Option
Obesity can have a serious impact on one’s life, both physically and emotionally, but surgery is only one piece of the puzzle. Before pursuing a treatment plan, make sure you understand the risks and benefits of your potential surgery, and be prepared to enact your own long-term goals for a healthier lifestyle. Contact us to learn more about your options for an effective weight loss plan.