Bariatric surgery is an operation that is performed in order to help people with extreme and excessive obesity. Evidence suggests that bariatric surgery may lower death rates for patients with severe obesity, especially when coupled with healthy eating and lifestyle changes after surgery.
Bariatric Surgery Principles
The basic principle of bariatric surgery is to restrict food intake and decrease the absorption of food in the stomach and intestines.
The digestion process begins in the mouth where food is chewed and mixed with saliva and other enzyme-containing secretions. The food then reaches the stomach where it is mixed with digestive juices and broken down so that nutrients and calories can be absorbed. Digestion then becomes faster as food moves into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine) where it is mixed with bile and pancreatic juice.
Bariatric surgery is designed to alter or interrupt this digestion process so that food is not broken down and absorbed in the usual way. A reduction in the amount of nutrients and calories absorbed enables patients to lose weight and decrease their risk for obesity-related health risks or disorders.
Why the Need for Surgical Intervention
Severe obesity is one of the most serious stages of obesity. You may often find yourself struggling with your weight and essentially feeling as if you’re trapped in a weight gain cycle. In addition, you most likely have attempted numerous diets – only in the end, to see your weight continue to increase.
More than a decade ago, The National Institutes of Health, better known as NIH, reported that individuals affected by severe obesity are resistant to maintaining weight loss achieved by conventional therapies, such as consuming fewer calories, increasing exercise, commercial weight-loss programs, etc.). The NIH recognized bariatric (weight-loss) surgery as the only effective treatment to combat severe obesity and maintain weight loss in the long term.
Bariatric Surgery Can Help You
When combined with a comprehensive treatment plan, bariatric surgery may often act as an effective tool to provide you with long term weight-loss and help you increase your quality of health. Bariatric surgery has been shown to help improve or resolve many obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more. Frequently, individuals who improve their weight find themselves taking less and less medications to treat their obesity-related conditions.
Significant weight loss through bariatric surgery may also pave the way for many other exciting opportunities for you, your family, and most importantly – your health.
The Way Bariatric Surgery Works
Bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, work by changing the anatomy of your gastrointestinal tract (stomach and digestive system) or by causing different physiologic changes in your body that change your energy balance and fat metabolism. Regardless of which bariatric surgery procedure you and your surgeon decide is best for you, it is important to remember that bariatric surgery is a “tool.” Weight loss success also depends on many other important factors, such as nutrition, exercise, behavior modification, and more.
By changing your gastrointestinal anatomy, certain bariatric procedures affect the production of intestinal hormones in a way that reduces hunger and appetite and increases feelings of fullness (satiety). The end result is reduction in the desire to eat and in the frequency of eating. Interestingly, these surgically-induced changes in hormones are opposite to those produced by dietary weight loss. Let’s take a closer look at the differences in hormonal changes between surgery and dietary weight loss:
- Bariatric Surgery and Hormonal Changes
Hormonal changes following bariatric surgery improve weight loss by maintaining or enhancing energy expenditure (calories burned). In fact, some surgeries even increase energy expenditure relative to changes in body size. Thus, unlike dietary weight loss, surgical weight loss has a higher chance of lasting because an appropriate energy balance is created.
- Dieting and Hormonal Changes
In dietary weight loss, energy expenditure is reduced to levels lower than would be predicted by weight loss and changes in body composition. This unbalanced change in energy can often lead to weight regain.
Significant weight loss is also associated with a number of other changes in your body that help to reduce defects in fat metabolism. With increased weight loss, you will find yourself engaging in more physical activity. Individuals who find themselves on a weight-loss trend often engage in physical activity, such as walking, biking, swimming, and more. Additionally, increased physical activity combined with weight loss may often improve your body’s ability to burn fat, lead to a positive personal attitude, and decrease stress levels.
Massive weight loss, as a result of bariatric surgery, also reduces hormones such as insulin (used to regulate sugar levels) and cortisol (stress hormone) and improves the production of a number of other factors that reduce the uptake and storage of fat into fat storage depots. Physical activity is also a very important component of combating obesity.
Bariatric surgery may improve a number of conditions and biological actions (hormonal changes) to reverse the progression of obesity. Studies find that more than 90 percent of bariatric patients are able to maintain a long-term weight loss of 50 percent excess body weight or more.
Bariatric surgery can be a useful tool to help you break the vicious weight gain cycle and help you achieve long term weight loss and improve your overall quality of health and life.