The number of people in the United States who have the disease of obesity has grown rapidly over the past several years. In fact, greater than half the population is overweight or obese. Obesity is defined as having an excessive amount of body fat. The majority of people who are affected by obesity have tried numerous weight loss methods including diet and exercise, medications, fad diets and weight loss clinics without success. There are hundreds of different “proven methods” of weight loss available. These diets may be effective for people who have 5, 10 or 20 pounds to lose. But when you read the fine print on diet ads, it says “These results are not typical.” Also, studies show these diets only show consistent and permanent weight loss in about 5% of the morbidly obese population. That is only 5 out of 100 people! For the other 95 people, there are surgical options available.
Surgery for obesity is an option after other weight loss options have been exhausted. There are different weight loss surgeries available. The most important thing a person can do is become educated about each procedure to truly make an informed decision about which surgery is the best for them. The most commonly performed weight loss surgeries include the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass, the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, and the Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band.
The Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (GBP) has been performed since the 1960’s. It involves creating a small pouch out of the upper portion of the stomach (about the size of a small egg) and bypassing a portion of the small intestine. The GBP surgery works by restricting the amount a person can eat or drink at one time, and causing a degree of malabsorption of calories and nutrients.
The Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) involves removing about 85% of a person’s stomach. The digestive tract is not changed in any other way. The VSG surgery works by restricting the volume a person can take in at one time. The VSG was approved by the FDA in 2009. In the past it was performed as a “stepping stone” to a gastric bypass surgery. The VSG was found to demonstrate successful weight loss and a sense of fullness, so it began to be performed as a primary weight loss surgery.
The Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band (LAGB) involves placing a silicone band around the upper portion of the stomach and “buckling” it in place. The band is attached to a tube with a small port at the end. This port sits on the stomach muscle wall under the skin. The port can be accessed with a special needle to add or remove fluid from the band, thus increasing or decreasing the amount of restriction the patient is experiencing. To get a better picture, think of an hourglass filled with sand. If the middle of the hour glass is wide, the sand will filter through very quickly. If the middle is narrow, the sand passes through slowly. A LAGB restricts the amount of food a person eats by preventing food from moving out of the upper stomach too quickly, thus promoting a sense of prolonged fullness.
No matter what surgery you choose, success revolves around adopting a healthy lifestyle. Choosing to have weight loss surgery is a major decision and ongoing education and support is crucial. Weight loss surgery offers a person the chance to experience a healthier, more active, better quality of life. Learn about the benefits and risks associated with the different surgeries by attending free weight loss surgery seminars, support groups, and through the internet. Always ask questions and clarify information. Remember: the MCHS Bariatric Team is here to support you! Contact us at 432-640-3551 for additional information or with any questions you may have.
Kim Kwiatkowski FNP-BC,MSN,RN,CRT