For many people, bariatric surgery is a life-saving operation. When all other weight reduction avenues have failed, surgery gives the patient a genuine alternative to produce the results needed to achieve long term weight loss goals. Extensive worldwide research has shown less than 5% of people who undertake a diet and exercise regime keep the weight off up to and beyond 5 years.
Bariatric surgery has come a long way since its inception in the 1970s. Current procedures include a gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, gastric lap band and revisional surgery.
Gastric sleeve surgery works by reducing the stomach size by 75%. The results for patients over a 12 month period produce a reduction in excess body weight of 70%.
Gastric bypass surgery involves the Roux-en-Y is the most commonly performed bariatric surgery in the world. It combines two forms of surgery, one of restriction and the other of malabsorption. Stapling is used to create a smaller upper stomach pouch. This restricts the volume of food able to be consumed. In addition, a small part of the bowel is bypassed. This stops food from mixing with digestive juices to avoid complete absorption.
Gastric lap band surgery was introduced in the 1970s and was once one of the most popular forms of bariatric surgery. Research and development have now superseded this procedure and it is now known as gastric sleeve surgery.
People who undergo bariatric surgery are able to feel full after only eating a small amount of food. This enables long term, sustained and significant weight loss. Once patients have had a procedure and go through the recovery process, they often report being unable to eat certain things such as white bread and solid meats initially but with time and practice most foods will be tolerated. Due to the stomach size being reduced people also see a healthier diet as more beneficial considering they can only eat small amounts choosing the best nutrition is essential. Entree sized meals are the examples given of amounts able to be consumed.
A detailed meal plan is provided for post-surgery. The plans go through stages. Immediately after surgery, the patient will only be able to ingest liquids and soft mushy foods or pureed meals. After the healing has occurred, normal solid food choices can be slowly introduced with protein foods being the most important source of nutrition.
The health benefits of undergoing sleeve gastrectomy surgery are numerous. Someone with a body mass index of >35 will have a number of comorbidities. These are preventable illnesses that are minimised if not completely eradicated after successful weight loss surgery. Patients often report as the kilograms come off, so do the life-threatening illnesses.
Heart disease is the biggest killer in Australia and the leading cause of cardiovascular disease is obesity. This risk is significantly diminished when there is a reduction in weight.
Type 2 diabetes is another comorbidity that is often associated with a high body mass index (BMI). The blood sugar levels can be controlled with medication but often after successful bariatric surgery patients report being in diabetes remission.
Because of the increased load on the body to function and perform, blood pressure is often at an elevated level. High blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes. After surgery patients often find their blood pressure within a normal range.
Cholesterol levels are also generally heightened in people who are overweight and this again requires medication. Poor dietary choices are the leading factor in high levels of cholesterol. Saturated fats, trans fats and sugars. Cholesterol levels may reduce after weight reduction.
Many overweight patients take medication for joint pain brought on by the extra demands on the joints. It is usually not required after a sustained period of weight loss.
People in the obese category sometimes suffer from a serious sleeping disorder called sleep apnea. This means they can stop breathing up to hundreds of times a night whilst sleeping. It can result in a lack of oxygen to the brain and the rest of the body. A device called a CPAP machine is required to assist the patient whilst sleeping. Sufferers of this condition may find with weightloss that their sleep apnea may improve.
The rate of depression in obese patients with a body mass index of >35 is significantly increased. Quality of life is compromised in virtually every area of living. They often have a poor body image and suffer the consequences and judgement of social stigmas. Because the weight reduction is gradual and consistent, people's confidence continues to grow as they are able to maintain weight loss.
The social benefits that come with a healthier lifestyle are virtually never-ending. You feel better about yourself and that radiates to the world. You may feel more confident to go out socially whereas larger people often stay isolated. You interact with more people through physical activity. This often leads to long term relationships forming.
People with weight issues often avoid going out for dinner as they feel judged in an eating situation. After surgery, only a small calorie intake is required to feel full. Often post surgery, people tend only to order entree-size meals as this leads them to feel full. People find themselves experiencing activities that they have not to be able to participate in a long time. This includes plane travel, live theatre, sporting events, travel, interactivity with children. The newfound freedoms will be different for each person but the rewards will definitely be numerous.
Obesity in both men and women can play a part in trying to get pregnant.
For women not in a healthy weight range, it can affect her hormones and menstrual cycle. It may also compromise the quality of eggs she produces. For men not in a healthy weight range, they may suffer erection problems and compromise the quality of the sperm produced.
A 2018 study finds evidence that women who eat more fast food and less fresh fruit than the normal average, will have difficulty getting pregnant. A survey of 5,628 women was taken at their first postnatal appointment. They were asked about their leafy green vegetables, fruit, fish and fast food intake prior to the month of conception. The women that ate more fast food took longer to conceive.
The benefits of a healthier lifestyle in a normal weight range are evident. Even if you achieve only some of the positive changes listed you will still be living a happier, longer life.