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Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Surgery

Not everyone who struggles with their weight is a candidate for weight loss surgery. Let’s say you are considered a viable candidate. If so, you need to consider the pros and cons that come with each surgical option.

There are three primary “restrictive” weight loss surgeries, meaning those procedures that restrict the amount of food a patient can eat at one time: laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding.

Even though all three procedures are restrictive, there are significant differences, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Gastric Bypass

With gastric bypass, the gastrointestinal anatomy is changed, creating a small stomach pouch in the process. The procedure lasts for about two hours and usually requires a couple nights in the hospital. Weight comes off steadily over a one- to two-year period.

Since most of the stomach and part of the small intestine is bypassed, patients have a risk for anemia and osteoporosis. They also need to take vitamins and supplements for the rest of their lives. Bypass patients are recommended the following vitamin supplements: a multi-vitamin, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B and iron.

The stomach and small intestine are stapled and divided. This poses a risk for leaking and bleeding at the staple lines. Sometimes a gastric bypass patient will have to re-visit their doctor to make the necessary adjustments.

Sleeve Gastrectomy

This weight loss procedure does not involve rearranging the gastrointestinal anatomy. It does, however, use surgical staples similar to a bypass. A portion of the stomach is removed to create a very narrow tube in place of an entire stomach. The surgery usually lasts just under two hours and requires one night in the hospital. Weight loss comes off over a one- to two-year period.

On the positive side, patients do not have the same risk of nutritional deficiency as gastric bypass patients. However, a sleeve gastrectomy is not reversible and there is also the possibility of leaking and bleeding at the staple lines.

Your doctor will also recommend vitamin supplementation, including a multi-vitamin, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B.

Gastric Banding

With gastric banding, the doctor places a silicone device around the top of the patient’s stomach. The anatomy of the patient is not altered and the surgery lasts for about an  hour and usually requires one night in the hospital (some patients can go home the same day). The weight loss after banding occurs over a two- to three-year period.

Gastric banding requires more frequent follow-up visits than the others, including adjustments to the banding. Vitamin recommendations include a multi-vitamin, calcium and vitamin D.

All three of these procedures provide dramatic and sustainable weight loss. However, it does not come without responsibilities and challenges. You still must adhere to a proper diet and exercise in order to get the results you are looking for.

Each procedure has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, all of which will factor in to the choice made by the patient. When a patient is better informed, even before they go to their first consultation, it will help alleviate anxiety associated with choosing the right procedure.

Also see:

Weight Loss Surgery Cookbook for Dummies

Weight Loss Surgery Has Greater Results, More Risk

November 25th, 2011

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