Bariatric surgery is surgery that alters the stomach and digestive system in such a way that the amount of food and calories you can take in is limited, leading to weight loss. The most common form of bariatric surgery has become well known as a very effective weight loss measure.
However, while bariatric surgeries are effective, they are also a drastic step that is not for everybody. It is important that anyone who is considering a step as major as seeking bariatric surgery knows exactly what they are getting into. Surgery can sound appealing as an ‘easy’ solution to issues with weight loss. But just like any other major procedure, bariatric surgery comes with risks and potential side effects.
If you are considering gastric bypass surgery as a potential weight loss option, these are the things that you first need to be aware of.
Do You Qualify?
Because gastric bypass surgery, or any other form of bariatric surgery, is a life-changing procedure, you will need to first check that you meet the relevant criteria in order to qualify for your chosen procedure. A range of problems can be addressed with the use of bariatric surgery, such as sleep apnoea, high blood pressure, and heart disease. However, it can also pose some significant risks and there can be life-threatening complications.
There are many different forms of bariatric surgery, with gastric bypass surgery being the most common. You can read about the various forms of available surgery online. Each surgery will have its own specific requirements, but as a general set of guidelines, you will need to meet one of the following criteria in order to qualify for weight loss surgery:
- Efforts to lose weight through traditional methods, such as diet and exercise, haven’t worked.
- You have a BMI of 40 or more.
- You have a BMI of 35 or over and also suffer from a health problem related to your weight. For example, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.
- You are a teenager who has already gone through puberty, have a BMI of 35 or above, and suffer from serious health problems related to your weight issues.
In some cases, those with a BMI of 30 or above will be considered for weight loss surgery if it is deemed to be in their interest.
Before being confirmed for weight loss surgery, you will need to undergo an evaluation. This will consider the factors outlined above but will also assess your psychological condition to ensure that weight loss surgery is in your best interests. Those who meet the above criteria might still be denied if there are other circumstances to consider.
There will usually be multiple individuals involved in your assessment. These include doctors, nurses, dieticians, psychologists and, of course, the surgeon. All of these individuals together will determine whether you can be considered for weight loss surgery. They will also decide on which type of surgery is best for your particular set of circumstances. At the heart of this consideration will be whether the potential benefits of relatively risky surgery outweigh the risks involved.
In some cases, weight loss surgery has been associated with an exacerbation of existing mental health issues. For example, there are now studies that demonstrate a link between a heightened risk of suicide and opting for weight loss surgery. This effect has been noted mostly in those who have already attempted suicide at some point in the past. More research is needed before we can draw any firm conclusions, but the indications so far have been quite strong.
If a link does exist, it is not pronounced enough that doctors will reject you for bariatric surgery on this basis. Instead, they will factor in your current emotional state and history when deciding whether to give the go-ahead for your surgery. After any weight loss surgery, you should be monitored carefully to ensure that if you do develop any mental health issues, they will be dealt with quickly.
What Else is Considered?
One of the main factors that your medical team will consider in their deliberations is your history with food and weight. They will review all the records available relating to what you’ve eaten, your dietary habits, weight trends, exercise habits, and other factors that will have played a role in your current weight.
They will, of course, also carefully consider your current medical conditions and how these are related to your weight. There are some health conditions that will increase the risks inherent in any surgery, as well as the risks of surgery in general. These medical conditions include some relatively common issues such as blood clots, heart disease, liver disease, kidney stones, and others that often appear in those suffering from chronic obesity.
Your current intake of medical and recreational drugs, including alcohol, will also be considered. You will also be given a thorough physical exam, the final results of which will determine your eligibility.
While weight loss surgery can be very useful in helping individuals to lose weight, it does not always address underlying psychological issues. Some people who suffer from issues like anxiety and depression have always believed that these conditions are down to their weight. If surgery doesn’t leave them feeling better, it can exacerbate the depression.
One final important factor that will be considered is your motivation. With interventions as drastic as weight loss surgery, your team will also want to be sure that you will stick to any prescribed changes in your diet and exercise routines.
For some people, weight loss surgery can be a life-changing experience. When it works, bariatric surgery allows those who struggle the most to control their weight to take some kind of control over it. It is not the only weight loss option out there and is generally considered an option of last resort. Consult with your healthcare team today if you think that weight loss surgery is for you.