Having a weight loss surgery may be one of the most important decisions a person has to make throughout their lives, so if you are wondering what it is or what are its risks and benefits, read on.
How does weight loss surgery work?
There are several types of bariatric surgeries, not just one, and they work either by limiting the quantity of food that your stomach can hold, thus you eat less and lose weight; or by stopping your digestive system from absorbing some of the nutrients and calories in the food that you eat; or a combination of both methods.
To be a candidate for weight loss surgery, you need to have a BMI of 40 or more. People whose BMI is 30-40 and suffer from health conditions such as diabetes, sleep apnea, or asthma are also eligible for bariatric surgeries.
Most surgeries are laparoscopic, which means the surgeon will make small cuts and recovery will be short. You will spend 2-3 days in the hospital and can regain normal activities in 3 to 5 weeks.
How much weight will you lose?
This depends on your current weight and the type of surgery you will have, however people on average lose up to 60% of their extra weight.
What are the possible side effects?
The majority of people who undergo weight loss surgery don’t experience any complications or serious problems, however, some common side effects include constipation, gallstones, and wound infections. More serious side effects are bleeding in the stool, leaks in the new connections made by the surgery or blood clots to the lungs. Make sure you contact your doctor immediately if you notice any of these side effects. Some people also feel nausea, faintness, sweating and diarrhea after eating, all of which are symptoms of the Dumping Syndrome, which is when food and drink move very quickly through the small intestine into the small bowel.
Life after surgery and dietetic follow up
In order for a weight loss surgery to be effective and for you to get the best results out of it, a lot of commitment is required from you, as well as certain lifestyle changes. Following a specific nutrition plan is essential to avoid complications and lose weight in a proper manner. In the first few weeks, you will be on a liquid only diet, then solid food can be introduced gradually into your diet. Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian is specialized in nutrition for pre and post bariatric surgery, and can guide you through the weight loss journey. Expect to eat smaller portions and fewer calories. It may become harder for your body to absorb certain nutrients such as Iron, calcium, folate and vitamins D and B12, therefore to take supplements and prevent conditions like osteoporosis and anemia. And finally, don’t forget to exercise; this helps you keep the weight off and contributes to your overall health.
Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian