Are you considering weight loss surgery? Find out if you're a candidate for gastric bypass surgery or laparoscopic band surgery.
Weight loss can be difficult to achieve at the best of times. It takes patience and discipline to stay on course and get the results you want, and maintaining a healthy body weight can often pose a lifelong challenge. If you've tried every diet and exercise plan, and are still struggling to shed the pounds, you might be thinking about other weight loss options.
At what point is it time to take a more drastic step like gastric bypass surgery or laparoscopic band surgery to improve your health and increase your overall wellness?
Canada is putting on weight
According to Health Canada, over the past 25 years the number of overweight or obese adults countrywide have increased at an alarming rate, putting sufferers at risk for serious illness like high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, a recent report released by Statistics Canada shows that as obesity numbers continue to rise, those who are already overweight are more likely to continue to put on weight rather than lose it.
Is weight loss surgery for you?
Bariatric surgeon Dr. Patrick Yau says that to qualify at the basic level for a surgical intervention a patient should have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40, or greater than 35 with significant medical problems related to obesity. If you meet these early criteria, you can work with your family physician to explore your medical and weight loss history to determine if you are a good candidate for referral to a specialist.
You can find out how to calculate your BMI here.
What is gastric bypass surgery?
Gastric bypass surgery (Roux-en-Y gastric bypass) is a procedure where the stomach is divided into two sections, creating a small, walnut-sized pouch out of the upper stomach where food then travels directly to the small intestine, bypassing the larger part of the stomach and limiting the amount of food the patient is allowed to take in and digest. This in-patient surgery takes approximately four hours, and within the first year, patients can expect to lose between 10 and 20 pounds per month.
"Because the stomach is made smaller, patients can only generally eat a small amount," Dr. Yau explains. "In essence, this operation irreversibly alters the patients anatomy – the stomach is stapled and a portion of the bowel is altered so that a patient's ability to absorb nutrients is diminished."
Laparoscopic band surgery
Alternately, with laparoscopic band surgery, an inflatable silicon band is placed around the top section of a patient's stomach, creating a pouch which limits the amount of food they can take in and slowing the passage of food from the upper section of the stomach to the lower.
This surgery does not permanently alter the patient's anatomy, and the band can be adjusted for comfort and effectiveness with an increase or decrease of saline solution through a port underneath the patient's skin. This outpatient procedure lasts approximately one and a half hours, and a patient can expect to lose one to two pounds per week in the first year following surgery.
Because of the limited amount of food a patient is able to eat after both surgeries, care must be taken to ensure they stick to a specialized diet. This includes eating several small meals throughout the day, making sure the proper amount of vitamins and nutrients are being ingested to keep the body healthy.
Additional supplements may be necessary to make sure the patient receives proper nutrition.
Dr. Yau says with gastric bypass surgery, the patient will continue eating smaller portions for the rest of their life, while the laparoscopic band procedure can be reversed at any time. However, he cautions that neither of the surgeries are a magic bullet. The success of both depends on maintaining a proper post-operative diet and exercise plan to keep the weight from coming back.
"Surgery is measured by five year success rates," Dr. Yau says. "Generally, patients lose more weight with gastric bypass than banding, however it is important to have a comprehensive post-operative program in order to be successful. By simply doing the operation without the post-op program, the success rates will drop."