What is bariatric surgery and how does it work?

Bariatric surgery is a treatment option for people living with obesity - especially those who have not experienced long-term weight loss success through other means.  Often referred to as "weight loss surgery," bariatric surgery has transformed the health and lives of thousands of people.  More than twenty percent of Americans suffer from obesity (defined as having a BMI of at least 30).  In 2013, the American Medical Association finally recognized the condition as a disease that requires a range of medical interventions for treatment and prevention.  Bariatric surgery has proven to be the only consistently successful treatment in helping people lose at least half of their excess weight and keep it off after five years.

Bariatric surgery is the clinical term for several different procedures aimed at reducing the size of the stomach and therefore decreasing the amount of food that can be eaten at one time.  Some bariatric procedures also change how the body absorbs and responds hormonally to food that is consumed.  Our surgeons offer three different operations, including the "Gold Standard" of bariatric surgeries, Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass.  Gastric bypass offers the greatest weight loss success rates and the best improvements in associated medical conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea.  The other two procedures are Sleeve Gastrectomy and Adjustable Gastric Banding, also known as LapBand® surgery. Each of the three procedures has advantages and disadvantages that should be discussed with your surgeon to help determine the most effective and safest option for you.

Bariatric surgery is described as a "tool" that will aid you in losing weight and regaining control over your health.  By reducing the size of the stomach, you will feel full faster and stay satisfied longer after a small meal.  Your appetite may also be suppressed during the first few months after surgery.  These changes will allow you to reduce your food intake without the normal response of hunger and cravings.

It is important to understand, however, that the body is highly adaptable, and gradually you will be able to eat more.  Your responses to food intake will change, and if you are not careful, you may regain your weight.  Our team of experts will work alongside you both pre- and post-operatively to show you how to make improvements in your meal planning and activity level.  You must sustain these healthy lifestyle changes, using your "tool" to overcome your body's natural tendency to revert to pre-surgery weight levels.  In our experience, patients can be highly successful after surgery if they follow the guidelines.  Along with weight loss, diabetes often goes into remission and fewer medications are required to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  Quality of life is improved and people are able to have active lives, resuming physical activities that were impossible before surgery.