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Obesity Surgery - How It Works?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Manish K Gupta 90% (80 ratings)
F.I.A.G.E.S , MNAMS (Membership of The National Academy) (General Surgery), DNB (General Surgery), MBBS, FALS
General Surgeon, Delhi  •  22 years experience
Obesity Surgery - How It Works?

Obesity surgery is more commonly referred to as bariatric surgery. It is a surgery done on the stomach and/or intestines of a person with morbid obesity so that he or she loses weight. It is believed that as of now, bariatric surgery is the only option that almost always works to help overly obese people lose a lot of weight, which automatically makes the associated chronic conditions vanish.

How does this surgery work? Bariatric surgery works by changing the anatomy of the stomach and the digestive system (gastrointestinal tract) or by causing different physiologic changes in the body, which in turn changes the energy balance and fat metabolism. Technically, eating fewer calories than they are burned by the body, results in gradual and long-lasting weight loss. Bariatric surgery is the best option for people who have a body mass index (BMI) above 40. It can also be recommended for people with a BMI in between 35 and 40 and who have health problems such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or higher risk of heart diseases.

Types of obesity surgery: There are four types of bariatric surgical procedures that can be done to promote weight loss. This includes:

  1. Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass SurgeryThis is commonly known as gastric bypass. It is considered as the gold standard of weight loss surgery. This procedure is often considered to be highly effective and a more permanent one.
  2. Adjustable gastric band – This is more commonly referred to as band surgery. It is the most basic and easiest of surgeries to do.
  3. Sleeve GastrectomyThis procedure is often called the sleeve. Studies show that the sleeve is as effective as the gastric bypass surgery in terms of weight loss and improvement of diabetes. However, the complication rates of the sleeve are on the higher side.
  4. Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch Gastric Bypass – Abbreviated as BPD/DS, it is a procedure with two components. It is considered to be the most effective surgery for the treatment of diabetes among all.

However, only a surgeon is able to decide which surgery will be the best for a patient. The decision is made after carefully considering the condition, requirement and manifestations of a patient. Moreover, the surgeon will also consider the advantages and disadvantages of each obesity surgery type before choosing the most suitable one for an individual.

Benefits of obesity surgery: Bariatric surgery continues to benefit people worldwide who fight against morbid obesity. Obesity is associated with impairment in the quality of life. In particular, obesity can cause increased physical limitations, body pain, fatigue, high blood pressure, and even diabetes. Bariatric surgery also acts as a preventive intervention against these serious health problems caused by obesity. Numerous studies have suggested that not just physical but many individuals have reported improvement in psychological functioning as well.

Bariatric surgery can help improve patient’s overall mood and psychological health. Patients who have undergone these procedures report decreased feeling of depression and anxiety, as well as an increase in energy to take up more active lifestyle post-surgery. Obese patients who undergo bariatric surgery not only live longer but also live much better.

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