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Weight loss surgeries are serious procedures that should only be considered for those who have tried all other means of weight loss without success. As with all surgeries, there are serious health risks and complications. Weight loss procedure should not be viewed as simple solutions for those who are overweight or obese.
Obesity is a serious health risk that can lead to a number of diseases and a lower life expectancy. Around 20% of men and 25% of women are obese in the UK.
Obesity can lead to cancer, heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, and a number of other medical disorders. Those who have or are at a severe risk of developing obesity related disorders will benefit the most from weight loss surgery.
There are three common weight loss procedures: the gastric balloon, the gastric band, and the gastric bypass.
The gastric balloon is ideal for patients who have a BMI lower than 35. The procedure lasts an average of ten minutes with a hospital stay of around one hour. The procedure is generally painless, non-surgical and does not require a recovery time.
The gastric balloon is inserted into the stomach through the mouth. The balloon is inflated with either silicon or air. Once filled, it reduces the capacity of the stomach, which makes patients feel full after eating just a small portion of food. This results in patients being unable to overeat, resulting in weight loss.
The gastric balloon is left in place for a maximum of six months. It is intended to jump start weight loss. It is not a long term solution and is not recommended for those who are morbidly obese.
It may be recommended, however, as a temporary solution for those with high BMI’s who have health risks that make other procedures impossible. Generally, the gastric balloon is only recommended for those who are mildly to moderately obese.
The gastric band which is sometimes also called a lap band is ideal for patients with a BMI over 30. It is a long term weight loss solution for those who are chronically overweight or obese.
The gastric band procedure is conducted via keyhole surgery, which uses several small incisions rather than one long one. The procedure takes about an hour and will require patients to stay overnight in the hospital. Recovery from gastric band surgery is about two weeks.
The gastric band is a hollow ring that surgeons wrap around the stomach. It is filled with fluid which tightens the ring and reduces the capacity of the stomach. It also slows the rate at which food can be digested.
The gastric band can be adjusted throughout the lifetime of the patient to accommodate more or less food as the patient and surgeon see fit.
Because of the customisability of the gastric band, it is considered to be one of the best weight loss methods as long term solution.
A gastric bypass is the most complex and invasive of the three procedures. It effects both the stomach and small intestine. The gastric bypass is most frequently recommended for those with a BMI of 30 or over. The procedure is a lifelong commitment to a healthy lifestyle which requires dieting, exercise, and daily dietary supplements.
During gastric bypass surgery, the stomach is portioned off to reduce its ability to hold large amounts of food. The small intestine is also re-routed to prevent the full absorption of consumed foods.
This combination procedure is the most invasive of the three forms and will require up to six weeks of recovery time. It also has the most drastic results, patients can loose as much as 80% of their excess weight.
The gastric bypass does holds more health risks than the other procedures. Those with medical disorders that could make surgery risky, may not qualify for the gastric bypass. Patients who receive the surgery must take dietary supplements for the rest of their life.
Weight loss surgery is not a simple solution for weight loss. The procedures do not replace dieting and exercise. It is important that patients considering weight loss surgery understand that they will be required to work hard to achieve the desired results. They must follow strict diet plans and attend a number of follow up meetings with the weight loss surgeons.
These procedures are not cosmetic surgeries and will not be made available to those who are not severely overweight or obese. Those who are mildly to moderately overweight may find that they do not qualify for any weight loss procedures.
Some patients will not qualify for weight loss surgery due to psychological or medical issues. The benefits must be weighed against the risks. The surgeon and specialist team will consider all current and previous medical issues to determine whether weight loss surgery is the correct decision for each patient.