There’s no getting around it: Americans have a weight problem. About one out of every three adults in the United States are considered to be obese. According to a 2017 survey from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranked as the fattest county in the world and the obesity rate for American adults clocked in at 38.2 percent.
Despite the high obesity rates, Americans are doing their best to lose weight. Sixty six percent of Americans are on a diet and 80 percent od dieters are trying to lose weight on their own. Fifty percent of Americans say they are unsuccessful at losing weight because they don’t have enough self discipline.
For those who are trying to lose weight, but are struggling, there are several weight loss surgery options available. Before examining different weight loss surgery options, it’s important to note the difference in the three most popular types of weight loss surgery.
- Restrictive surgery: This surgery involves shrinking the stomach to slow digestion. A normal stomach is about the size of a fist and can hold about three pints of food. After a restrictive surgery, the stomach may only hold a few ounces of food. The idea is that having a smaller stomach will cause a person to eat less and ultimately help them lose weight.
- Malabsorptive surgery: This surgery changes how a person takes in food. It gives a person a smaller stomach, but also bypasses part of the digestive tract. This can make it difficult to absorb calories.
- Electrical implants: This surgery prompts weight loss by interrupting the signals sent between the stomach and the brain.
Now that the different surgical methods have been established, let’s look at three different weight loss surgery options and common types of bariatric surgery.
- Gastric Banding: This is a restrictive surgery that uses an adjustable band to separate the stomach into a small upper pouch and a larger lower section. A small channel connects the two areas, which helps slow down the emptying of the upper pouch. People who get the surgery are advised to eat soft foods and can usually only eat about a cup of food before feeling sick.
On the plus side, gastric bonding is a simple surgery and is pretty safe. There is also a fast recovery time.
On the negative side, gastric bonding can result in less dramatic weight loss when compared to other surgeries. There is also the chance people may regain some of the weight they lose. When it comes to eating, people who get the surgery have to eat slower to avoid vomiting and there can be some complications with the placement of the band.
- Sleeve Gastrectomy or Gastric Sleeve Surgery: This is another restrictive surgery and removes about 75 percent of the stomach. The remainder is a narrow “sleeve” that connects to the intestines. This is also a simple surgery and a lower-risk way to lose weight, but it can also require follow-up surgery.
One thing to keep in mind is that this procedure is irreversible and there are risks that the sleeve could become infected or leak.
- Gastric Bypass Surgery: This is one of the more popular weight loss surgery options and combines restrictive and malaborptive approaches. Like gastric banding, this involves separating the stomach into two sections, but these are sealed off. The upper section is connected right to the small intestine. This creates a shortcut for people trying to lose weight as the body absorbs fewer calories.
On the plus side, weight loss is often quick and dramatic and other health issues that arise due to weight loss such as high blood pressure and sleep apnea often improve.
On the negative side, a person may not be able to absorb enough nutrients since the body now processes food differently. This surgery requires a careful diet and taking of supplements. This surgery also carries a risk of dumping syndrome, which happens when food dumps into the intestines to quickly and hasn’t been processed enough. Since gastric bypass is riskier, there are more risks of side effects.
There are many weight loss surgery options and they each have pros and cons. It’s important to consult a doctor about which procedure might work best for you.