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How to choose the right bariatric surgery option for you?

From incurable diseases to complicated genetic conditions, there are several reasons why someone might find it impossible to lose weight naturally. However, weight loss surgeries – also known as bariatric surgery – can be used as a treatment to help people head towards a healthier weight.

With more than 8,000 people in the UK set to undergo weight loss surgery this year alone, it’s possible to access the treatment either privately or on the NHS, under certain criteria. If you’d like to find out more about which type could be best for you, read our useful guide below.

Which procedures are available?

The two most common weight loss procedures are the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. Both procedures make changes to the way the digestive system works, but they work in slightly different ways:

  1. Gastric band surgery involves the application of an adjustable band using surgical staples to create a small pouch around the top of the stomach.
    In turn, this restricts your ability to eat lots of food in one go, so you’ll feel full quicker than you would’ve done previously. This option has varying success rates, but the most crucial thing is for the patient to make a proactive effort to lead a healthier lifestyle afterwards.

Gastric band surgery is good for people with high BMI’s, those with severe reflux disease and those with diabetes

  • Sleeve gastrectomy surgery is a more invasive type of bariatric surgery and involves the removal of part of the stomach, leaving a much smaller one behind. In fact, approximately 80% of the stomach is removed, restricting the amount of food you can eat. This is a major operation, and you should expect a full recovery to take between four and six weeks.

Sleeve gastrectomy surgery is good for those who have had several abdominal surgeries, high risk surgical patients. People who weigh more than 450-500 pounds, and those who are on multiple medications to treat psychiatric illness.

Additionally, a duodenal switch is used to treat people suffering with severe obesity. During this procedure, surgeons reduce the stomach size – much like in sleeve gastrectomy operations – but two different pathways are created using the small intestine.

One carries food to the large intestine, while the other transports bile from the liver. The result: less food is required before you feel full, and food is carried to the large intestine much more quickly.

The duodenal switch is good for people with severe obesity those with severe metabolic disease and people who are very good at following their doctors’ orders i.e., compliant with taking their vitamins, supplements and post op follow ups. Patients tend to lose even more weight than with Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery.

Am I eligible for Bariatric surgery?

You are eligible for bariatric surgery if your body mass index is 40 or higher, between 35 and 40, and you have health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease or sleep apnea. Between 30 and 35, and you have uncontrolled diabetes.

But finding the right procedure requires a discussion between you and your bariatric surgeon

Is bariatric surgery right for me?

All three bariatric surgery options we’ve listed are carried out under general anaesthetic, and most of the time, they can be carried out with laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.

The most important thing to consider is that the only reversible type here is gastric band surgery. If you’re willing to adapt your lifestyle and make lasting changes, the gastric band can eventually be removed. However, with a sleeve gastrectomy or duodenal switch operation, the changes to your body will be permanent.

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