Is Weight-Loss Surgery Right for Me?
Weight loss surgery can produce significant and sustained weight loss, resulting in improved health. There are many procedures that can help you achieve your desired weight and health goal. But the decision to have surgery should not be taken lightly. It’s important to take the time to find out which procedure is right for you.
Effectiveness of Weight-loss Operations
The most common weight-loss operations today are gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding, and sleeve gastrectomy. They are known to be most effective when:
- Performed by an accomplished and competent surgeon
- The operation is performed at a facility that offers aftercare programs focusing on dietary, behavioral, and exercise changes
- Most importantly, the patient is willing to work with the procedure
Regardless of what procedure is chosen, the key is using the weight-loss operation to implement lifestyle changes. These surgeries truly are a tool to help control hunger and portion size, but that’s it. The rest is up to you.
Following are some things to consider when deciding which surgery is right for you:
Know how much weight you want, or expect, to lose when choosing a weight-loss operation. Gastric bypass will result in the loss of about 70 percent of the excess weight, sleeve gastrectomy will result in around 60 percent, and gastric banding will result in around 50 percent.
Of course, how effective these procedures are all depends on how well the follow-up care is managed and if all the necessary lifestyle changes are made.
Reliability of Weight Loss
The success of any weight-loss procedure depends on you as the patient. Gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy almost always result in the expected weight-loss, but the chance of regaining the weight is very real. The necessary lifestyle changes must be made within the first year after the operation.
Adjustable gastric banding is much more variable, with weight loss of up to 70 to 90 percent of excess weight while some people will not lose any weight. With the banding procedure, if there is no lifestyle change immediately, there will be no weight loss. Once weight loss occurs, however, it’s most likely to stay off due to lifestyle changes.
Fast or Slow
Gastric bypass and sleeves have typical weight loss of 5 to 7 pounds a week early on, with an expected weight loss goal being reached within 12 to 15 months after the operation.
Gastric banding weight loss is at a much slower rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week, with an expected weight-loss goal being reached around two years after the operation.
Fear of the Unknown
There are plenty of good studies on the long-term effects of gastric bypass and adjustable gastric banding. The procedures are shown to be safe and effective for long-term weight loss and maintenance.
Because sleeve gastrectomy is such a new procedure, the studies currently available show this operation is safe and effective, but there is not enough information to know what will happen five or 10 years after the operation.
Ability to Follow Up
A gastric band requires a great deal of follow up to be effective. Much more so than bypass and sleeve operations. If it is too difficult to keep follow-up appointments, the band may not be the best choice for you.
Foreign Body Fear
Gastric bands are permanent and you must be comfortable with having the band in you for the rest of your life. It is not removed once the weight-loss goal is achieved.
What NOT to Consider When Choosing a Surgery
When deciding which surgery is right for you, I would suggest that you NOT consider the following:
No matter what weight-loss procedure is chosen, if a significant amount of weight is lost, there will be loose skin.
Generally speaking, gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy are more expensive than adjustable gastric banding. But if insurance is paying for the operation, cost is not a factor.
In the end, your surgeon can’t tell you what the best operation is for you. If you are a qualified candidate for weight-loss surgery, any of these options will work well. You know you best so you should decide what’s best for you.
To find out if weight-loss surgery is right for you and the different procedures offered at Foothill Regional Medical Center, visit our bariatrics page, call our program director at (714) 619-7700 ext. 3316 or email her.