Losing weight might seem simple – add exercise, subtract calories, and voila, the pounds vanish. Sounds easy, right? Well, for some, perhaps. Yet, for many others, it’s a journey marked by stumbling through endless fad diets, supplements, cleanses, waist trainers, and exercise regimens, with little to no resolution.
The obesity epidemic is at an all-time high. According to the CDC, more than 42% of Americans are reported to have obesity, marking the highest recorded rate in the United States. What’s more, those grappling with obesity often have a variety of health issues, such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, depression, anxiety, joint problems, and more.
When traditional approaches like diets, gym memberships, HRT, and weight loss injections fall short, many opt for surgical interventions. Understandably, weight-loss surgery comes with a lot of questions. One of the most common is determining the best bariatric surgery technique and which specific procedure aligns with a patient’s unique struggles and goals.
In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about bariatric surgery, covering what it is, its benefits, safety considerations, the various techniques used, and the full spectrum of bariatric surgery options available.
What is Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery?
Bariatrics is a specialized field aiming to assist individuals in achieving significant and lasting weight loss. Bariatric surgery, also referred to as metabolic or weight-loss surgery, is a tailored solution for those facing obesity-related challenges.
There is not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to bariatric surgery. There are many types of bariatric surgery techniques and surgeries to consider, each with a unique approach. From restrictive surgeries that physically limit the stomach’s capacity to malabsorptive/restrictive techniques changing how the body processes food, the options cater to different needs and health conditions.
However, the primary goal of any weight-loss surgery is to modify the digestive system to limit the amount of food the stomach can hold or alter the body’s ability to absorb nutrients – sometimes both. By doing so, these surgeries can promote weight loss and, in many cases, alleviate obesity-related health issues.
That said, weight-loss surgery should not be viewed as a quick fix. The success of bariatric weight loss surgery often stems from a commitment to lifestyle changes, including adopting a healthier diet, incorporating regular exercise, and embracing ongoing medical support.
Who Qualifies for Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery?
For those who have struggled with traditional weight loss methods without achieving lasting results, bariatric surgery might offer a more effective and sustainable solution. It is typically reserved for individuals with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher.
However, if your BMI falls between 35 and 40 and you’re dealing with obesity-related health issues like diabetes or hypertension, bariatric surgery could be a viable option.
Beyond BMI, the impact of obesity on health plays a pivotal role. If you are struggling with serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, or heart disease due to obesity, bariatric surgery could be your best option to address both weight and health concerns.
It is essential to understand that the success of bariatric surgery also hinges on a commitment to significant lifestyle changes. You can’t have poor eating patterns or live a sedentary lifestyle. Embracing a healthier diet, incorporating regular exercise, and engaging in ongoing medical follow-ups is vital for optimal and long-lasting results.
Psychological readiness is another crucial factor. Approaching the journey with a positive mindset and preparedness to address the emotional and psychological aspects of weight loss are important.
If you’re unsure if bariatric surgery is right for you, consider scheduling a consultation to discuss any questions or concerns.
Bariatric Weight Loss Surgical Techniques and Types of Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery
While all weight loss procedures share the same goal of helping patients shed excess pounds and alleviate the health issues that coincide, there isn’t only one technique or type of weight loss surgery. Various methods and procedures are available to enhance overall health by reducing excess weight.
Here is a breakdown of the three bariatric surgical techniques we use at The Surgical Clinic and the different bariatric surgeries that fall within each category.
1: Restrictive Surgery
Restrictive weight loss surgery is a powerful technique that reduces the stomach’s capacity while keeping the rest of the gastrointestinal tract intact.
This method focuses on surgically decreasing stomach size. By limiting food intake, Restrictive Surgery provides a personalized and effective solution for those committed to achieving sustainable weight loss.
Types of Restrictive Surgery include:
Bariatric Vertical Sleeve Surgery (Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy)
Bariatric Vertical Sleeve Surgery, also known as Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) or sometimes just Sleeve Gastrectomy, is a highly effective weight loss surgery that involves the surgical removal of a significant portion of the stomach, leaving behind a smaller, sleeve-shaped stomach.
This reduces the stomach’s capacity and, consequently, limits the amount of food it can hold. This transformative surgery also influences the hormonal balance related to hunger, aiding in sustained weight loss.
Gastric bypass has long been regarded as the gold standard. While it may still hold that status, sleeve gastrectomy, offering comparable results for weight loss with a more straightforward procedure, has taken precedence.
Over the past five years, sleeve gastrectomy has surpassed gastric bypass as the predominant weight loss procedure. Its rise in popularity can be attributed to its effectiveness, with many patients achieving substantial and sustained weight loss.
- Effective Weight Loss: Sleeve Gastrectomy consistently delivers significant and lasting weight loss results.
- Improves Health Conditions: Beyond weight loss, patients often experience positive changes in obesity-related health conditions.
- Preserves Digestive Function: Unlike some procedures, Sleeve Gastrectomy maintains the natural digestive process, reducing the risk of malabsorption issues.
- Irreversible Procedure: Sleeve Gastrectomy is typically irreversible, necessitating careful consideration before opting for the surgery.
- Potential Complications: As with any surgical procedure, there are inherent risks, including infection, bleeding, or complications related to anesthesia.
- Complexity and Recovery: Bariatric Vertical Sleeve Surgery is considered a relatively straightforward procedure in terms of complexity, often performed laparoscopically. This minimally invasive approach contributes to a quicker recovery and less postoperative discomfort.
Patients generally experience a hospital stay of 1 to 2 days, with most returning to their regular activities within a few weeks. The initial recovery phase is crucial, and our dedicated team ensures comprehensive postoperative care to optimize your comfort and well-being.
Lap Band Surgery (Gastric Banding)
Lap Band Surgery, also known as Gastric Banding, is a weight loss procedure involving the placement of an adjustable band around the upper part of the stomach. This creates a smaller stomach pouch, allowing for controlled food intake.
While still an excellent choice for some, Lap Band Surgery has experienced a slight decline in popularity, with a decreasing number of individuals opting for this particular weight loss procedure.
Statistics indicate that its prevalence has diminished compared to the past, with many patients choosing alternative bariatric options for more effective and sustainable weight loss.
- Adjustable Control: Lap Band Surgery provides adjustable control over the tightness of the band, offering a personalized approach to weight loss.
- Minimally Invasive: Often performed using minimally invasive techniques, leading to quicker recovery times.
- Reversible Option: Lap Banding is a reversible procedure, providing flexibility if circumstances change.
- Potentially Slower Weight Loss: The weight loss process with Lap Band Surgery is typically slower compared to other procedures.
- Risk of Band Issues: There’s a potential for complications related to the band, such as slippage or erosion, which may require additional surgery.
Surgery Complexity and Recovery:
Lap Band Surgery is generally considered less complex compared to some other bariatric procedures. It is often performed laparoscopically, contributing to a shorter recovery period and reduced postoperative discomfort.
Patients usually experience a shorter hospital stay, typically one day, and can resume their regular activities within a few weeks. As with any surgery, postoperative care and follow-up appointments are crucial to monitor band adjustments and address any concerns.
2: Malabsorptive/Restrictive Surgery
Malabsorptive/Restrictive Surgery presents a multifaceted strategy for weight loss by incorporating both restrictive and malabsorptive elements. The bariatric surgeon not only reduces the stomach’s size but also redirects a portion of the small intestine.
This dual mechanism restricts food intake and alters the digestive process, leading to reduced calorie absorption. The combination of these approaches enhances the effectiveness of the surgery, providing patients the ability to achieve significant and long-term weight loss.
Types of Malabsorptive//Restrictive Surgery include:
Gastric Bypass Surgery (Roux-en-Y Surgery)
Gastric Bypass Surgery, also known as Roux-en-Y Surgery, is a transformative weight loss procedure that combines both restrictive and malabsorptive elements.
During the surgery, a small stomach pouch is created, significantly limiting food intake. Simultaneously, a rerouting of the small intestine alters the digestive process, leading to reduced calorie absorption.
Gastric Bypass Surgery has historically been at the forefront of weight loss surgeries, earning its status as one of the most commonly performed procedures globally. Recent statistics continue to underscore its prevalence, with a significant number of patients achieving remarkable and rapid weight loss outcomes.
- Effective Weight Loss: Gastric Bypass Surgery consistently leads to substantial weight loss, often resolving or improving obesity-related health conditions.
- Dual Approach: Combines both restrictive and malabsorptive elements for enhanced weight loss.
- Long-term Success: Known for its long-term success in sustaining weight loss.
- Complex Procedure: Gastric Bypass Surgery is a more complex procedure compared to some other bariatric surgeries.
- Potential Complications: As with any surgery, there are inherent risks, including infection, bleeding, and complications related to anesthesia.
Surgery Complexity and Recovery:
Gastric Bypass Surgery is considered a more complex procedure due to its dual approach. It is typically performed laparoscopically, but the complexity may result in a slightly longer recovery period compared to some other surgeries.
Patients usually stay in the hospital for 2 to 3 days, with a return to normal activities within a few weeks. Comprehensive postoperative care and follow-up appointments are essential for optimal results.
3: Surgically Placed Implants
This approach involves introducing external devices, like the Gastric Balloon or Bariatric Vertical Sleeve Surgery, to physically limit the digestive system’s capacity. It is a unique weight loss surgery because it does not alter the stomach’s anatomy.
Unlike procedures that involve internal modifications, Surgically Placed Implants provide a non-invasive alternative, appealing to those seeking weight loss solutions without permanent anatomical changes.
Types of Surgically Placed Implants include:
The Gastric Balloon is introduced into the stomach through minimally invasive endoscopic methods. This non-surgical approach induces a feeling of fullness, contributing to reduced food intake and aiding in weight loss.
The entire process is performed under conscious sedation, eliminating the need for general anesthesia. Patients typically return home the same day, experiencing a relatively quick recovery.
Gastric Balloon procedures have gained popularity as a non-surgical alternative for weight loss. While not as prevalent as some surgical options, it remains a great choice for patients seeking a less invasive approach.
- Non-surgical: Gastric Balloon is a non-surgical and reversible option for weight loss.
- Temporary: The balloon is temporary and can be removed after a designated period.
- Quick Recovery: Minimal recovery time compared to surgical procedures.
- Temporary Solution: The effects of the Gastric Balloon are temporary, and long-term weight maintenance may require additional measures.
- Risk of Balloon Issues: There is a potential for complications, such as deflation or migration of the balloon.
Surgery Complexity and Recovery:
Gastric Balloon insertion is a minimally invasive and outpatient procedure, resulting in a quick recovery. Patients can often resume normal activities within a few days. Regular follow-up appointments are needed to monitor the balloon’s status and address any concerns.
How to Select a Weight Loss Surgery
Selecting what weight loss surgery to have performed is a personal decision that involves consultation with a highly skilled bariatric surgeon. Your doctor will discuss your individual health, lifestyle, and goals to help determine the most suitable bariatric surgery for you.
We understand that choices can feel overwhelming; that is why it is important to do your research and understand that each weight loss surgery brings its unique set of advantages and considerations. It’s crucial to assess the pros and cons of each method, considering factors such as long-term effectiveness, potential complications, and lifestyle impact.
That said, here are some key factors of each bariatric surgery discussed above that might help you decide which weight loss surgery is best for you. Remember, the most crucial step is consulting with a skilled bariatric surgeon. They can provide tailored recommendations to suit your individual needs.
Sleeve Gastrectomy – A Comprehensive Approach to Weight Loss
Ideal for individuals seeking a balanced blend of effectiveness and simplicity, Sleeve Gastrectomy involves the removal of a significant portion of the stomach. This restrictive procedure not only promotes substantial weight loss but also maintains the natural digestive process, making it suitable for a wide range of individuals.
Who Should Consider Sleeve Gastrectomy?
- Individuals desiring a straightforward yet effective weight loss solution.
- Those seeking a procedure that preserves the natural digestive process.
Gastric Bypass Surgery – Dual Action for Lasting Results
Gastric Bypass Surgery stands out for its dual approach, combining stomach size restriction with alterations to the digestive process. This procedure is well-suited for individuals aspiring to achieve substantial weight loss with the added benefit of long-term success.
Who Should Consider Gastric Bypass Surgery?
- Those desiring significant weight loss through a dual-action approach.
- Individuals looking for a procedure with proven long-term success.
Lap Band Surgery – Adjustable Control and Minimally Invasive
For those prioritizing a reversible and minimally invasive option, Lap Band Surgery, or Gastric Banding, provides adjustable control over the tightness of the band. While weight loss may be more gradual, this procedure caters to individuals seeking a less invasive approach with the potential for adjustability.
Who Should Consider Lap Band Surgery?
- Individuals preferring a reversible and minimally invasive weight loss option.
- Those looking for adjustable control over their weight loss journey.
Gastric Balloon – Non-Surgical and Temporary Intervention
If you are in search of a non-surgical, temporary solution, the Gastric Balloon might be the ideal choice. Placed endoscopically, this inflatable device induces a feeling of fullness, aiding in weight loss with minimal recovery time.
Who Should Consider the Gastric Balloon Procedure?
- Individuals seeking a non-surgical and temporary weight loss intervention.
- Those looking for a solution with minimal recovery time.
Bariatric Vertical Sleeve Surgery – Effective and Widely Adopted
Bariatric Vertical Sleeve Surgery, also known as Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, combines effectiveness with simplicity. By surgically removing a large portion of the stomach, this procedure is suitable for those desiring significant weight loss without the complexity of intestinal rerouting.
Who Should Consider Bariatric Vertical Sleeve Surgery?
- Individuals desiring significant weight loss with a straightforward surgical approach.
- Those looking for a widely adopted and effective bariatric procedure.
Is Weight Loss Surgery Safe?
It’s natural to have concerns and questions about the potential risks and safety measures associated with bariatric surgery. The good news is that, for many individuals, weight loss surgery is a safe and effective option.
In fact, bariatric surgery stands out as one of the safest interventions available. When weighed against other elective surgeries, it is often deemed as safe or even safer. Modern advancements in surgical techniques, coupled with rigorous pre-op evaluations, have significantly enhanced the safety profile of these procedures.
The most common risks that are associated with bariatric surgery include the likelihood of experiencing dumping syndrome, the development of kidney stones, or the possibility of not achieving the desired weight loss or facing weight regain.
It’s important to note that, like any surgical intervention, weight loss surgery does come with potential risks and complications. However, these are typically outweighed by the potential benefits, especially for individuals struggling with severe obesity and related health issues.
Where to Have Bariatric Surgery in Middle Tennessee
Bariatric surgery is a significant undertaking that requires careful consideration and expert guidance. When choosing a bariatric surgeon, it is crucial that you entrust your journey to experienced professionals who understand the intricacies of these surgeries and your unique health needs.
At The Surgical Clinic, we have a bariatrics division with three highly skilled, board-certified bariatric surgeons. You can find them at The Surgical Clinic in Downtown Nashville, as well as Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital and TriStar Southern Hills Hospital in Nashville, TN.
From the moment you step into one of our clinics until you return home, we are prepared to stand by you. After returning home, our Nashville surgical weight loss support team will collaborate with you to guide you towards achieving your target weight, supporting your journey to a healthier and transformed version of yourself.
Schedule a consultation today with one of our bariatric surgeons to take the next step on your transformative journey toward a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Many also consider plastic surgery after weight-loss surgery. If you are curious about your options, you can also book a consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons in our plastic surgery division.