Undoubtedly, lifestyle and diet is taking its toll on human beings. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that since 1975, obesity has nearly tripled globally. This translates into 1.9 billion overweight adults and 65 million obese people. and 65 million obese people, or 13% of the entire population.
Overweight and obesity not only affect the individual aesthetically, but have also been correlated with rapid cellular aging, increased risk of heart disease and even more likely to develop cancers such as colorectal cancer (obese people are 30% more likely to suffer from it).
Bariatric surgery is a term that refers to the set of surgical procedures used to address the clinical picture resulting from obesity. In 2008, more than 350,000 interventions of this type were performed, which is why it is considered a surgical variant on the rise. If you want to know all the essential information about bariatric surgery, continue reading.
What is bariatric surgery?
As we have already mentioned in previous lines, today we are dealing with a series of interventions that seek to make changes in the physiology of the digestive system to help the patient lose weight. Despite their relative effectiveness, professional portals warn us that they are very invasive procedures, with potentially serious risks and side effects.
Moreover, bariatric surgery is not a panacea. The patient must restructure his or her relationship with food through psychological support.Some research shows that 20-87% of people can regain weight two years after surgery. According to the Mayo Clinic, this procedure is applied to avoid or reduce the effects of the following cases:
- Heart disease, stroke or predisposition to stroke.
- In the face of potentially lethal high blood pressure.
- To avoid fatty liver disease of non-alcoholic origin.
- To reduce/avoid sleep apnea.
- To prevent the onset of type II diabetes. Overweight and obesity dramatically increase the likelihood of obesity.
In general, these types of interventions are recommended for people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 40or in cases between 30-40 that present problems derived from their obesity condition. Even so, this is always the last professional option unless the patient’s life is in danger: first it is necessary to go through conventional diets, exercise and extensive psychological help. We emphasize: bariatric surgery is not the solution if the mind and individual routine are not restructured as well.
What is your procedure like?
There are several techniques included within this type of surgery, although 4 are the most common: adjustable gastric banding, vertical gastrectomy, gastric bypass and biliopancreatic diversion. Gastric bypass is the most commonly used of all.It is estimated that it corresponds to 49% of the interventions of this type. It is followed by gastric banding, which occupies the remaining 42% of patients. Below, we present the procedure in broad outline of the most common interventions.
1. Gastric bypass
This intervention is based on reducing stomach capacity to 20-50 cubic centimeters by creating a small pouch in the stomach, which will be directly connected to the stomach.which will be directly connected to the small intestine (hence the name Bypass). Thus, the ingested food will bypass a large part of the stomach and the first section of the small intestine during digestion.
Since there is much less stomach surface available (only 60% is used for food absorption), the patient will feel full much sooner and simply will not be able to consume as much food. Depending on the patient’s habits and commitment, after this surgery the patient can lose up to 75% of excess weight within a year.
In general, this procedure usually lasts a few hours, but recovery is extremely slow and costly. During the first days after the operation, only liquid or pureed foods are recommended and a completely normal diet will not be resumed until quite some time later. In addition, it is common for the patient to feel pain, tiredness, weakness, dry skin, hair loss, cold and other events related to drastic weight loss.
2. Gastric banding
It consists of the placement of an adjustable ring at the entrance of the stomach.The adjustment of which determines the capacity of ingestion. This helps the patient to feel fuller more quickly and to eat less. As simple as it may seem, this procedure also requires the patient to undergo surgery and several abdominal incisions to place the band.
Once installed in the patient, the gastric band will not inflate until 4-6 weeks after the operation, effectively constricting the stomach. Again, the recovery process is slow and costly, as for the first 2 weeks after the procedure there is no provision for anything other than liquid intake. Some people literally feel that with two sips of water they are already full.
After surgery, weight loss is slow but steady. In addition, the physician may make adjustments to the band if the patient is not losing weight as expected or has a related health problem. In general, effective weight loss is contemplated for up to 3 years.
3. Other procedures
Although we have shown you the two procedures that dominate the world of bariatric surgeries, there are also many others. Briefly, we will tell you what some of them consist of:
- Vertical gastrectomyVertical gastrectomy: literally, a vertical section of the stomach is cut to reduce its size. Its volume is reduced by 80%.
- Plicated tubular gastroplastyas unpleasant as it may sound, the stomach is “sewn” inward, thus reducing its capacity.
- Duodenal switchvery similar to the bypass, but in this case the connection is made in the duodenum, which allows only 50% of its use for food absorption.
- Biliopancreatic diversionThe food absorption surface of the small intestine is further reduced, in this case to 40%.
Risks and price
Bariatric surgery, in all the meanings shown, is not conceivable without possible complications. Excessive bleeding, infections, adverse reactions to anesthesia, clot formation, respiratory problems and even death (although very rare) may occur during the process.
After the operation, other complications may appear in the patient in the long term: gallstones, hernias, intestinal obstruction, ulcers, vomiting, gastric reflux, hypoglycemia and many other events. For all these reasons, the person who has undergone the procedure must be monitored by medical specialists for a long period of time on a medical, dietary and emotional level.
We do not intend to frighten people who are considering undergoing bariatric surgery, but it is necessary to expose its possible risks in order to emphasize that, again, we are dealing with quite invasive procedures that should not be taken lightly. Surgery should always be the last option when dealing with eating disorders, unless the patient is at immediate risk.
As far as price is concerned, this will vary widely depending on the type of procedure to be followed. Even so, the average price of a gastric bypass in many places is about 12,000 euros, while a gastric banding procedure is about 12,000 euros.12,000, while a gastric band can be obtained for about 7,800 euros. We are facing very high prices, but in many cases the payment can be divided into monthly installments much more friendly to the pocket.
As you will have seen in these lines, it is difficult to recommend bariatric surgery to any patient who has not already tried all possible means to lose weight.. The problem of obesity is as emotional as it is physical and, if not treated on a psychological level, relapse after a long and painful recovery process is more than likely.
If you are considering bariatric surgery, talk. Talk to your psychologist, talk to your trusted doctor, to your nutritionist, to your family and to every important person around you. Weigh well all the options and do not consider surgery until you have exhausted any previous course of action.