Bariatric Weight-Loss Surgery: Is This a Good Option for You?

The prevalence of obesity in the United States is continually increasing, and the rate at which Americans are developing health problems related to excess weight is also on the rise. When it comes to losing weight for your health, lifestyle changes are often the first place to start. However, in some cases, diet and exercise aren’t enough. Bariatric surgery can provide the boost someone needs to gain control of his or her health, but do the benefits really outweigh the risks?

Before making decisions about bariatric surgery, it’s important to breakdown the process. Bariatric surgical procedures are meant to cause weight loss by restricting the amount of food the stomach can hold or reducing the absorption of nutrients. There are several types of bariatric surgery, with sleeve gastrectomy sitting at the top as the most common type.

Sleeve gastrectomy is usually performed laparoscopically and involves the removal of a portion of the stomach. The remaining section of the stomach is then formed into a sleeve-shaped structure that holds less food than normal. Unlike other bariatric surgeries, sleeve gastrectomy does not affect the absorption of nutrients; however, it does slow the production of an appetite-regulating hormone called ghrelin, changing the signals between the stomach and the brain. This type of procedure is permanent and does require changes in eating habits and lifestyle, but many patients report effective weight loss and an improvement in other medical conditions related to weight.

With any surgical procedure, there are inherent risks and understanding those risks, as well as the limitations, is important. If you are considering bariatric surgery for weight loss, start by speaking to your doctor and finding out if you might be a good candidate.