You thought it would be easy. The process would be simple: walk into your doctor’s office and schedule a weight loss surgery. Then you do a little research and discover that there are different weight loss surgeries , and they each come with their own set of benefits and risks. Confronted with an array of options, you’re left scratching your head. Where do you go from here?
Understanding Your Weight Loss Surgery Options
Both gastric bypass and gastric banding are viable treatments for obesity, although doctors prefer the former, which has a longer history and a more proven track record. Both are relatively effective, although gastric bypass tends to lead to greater weight loss. Both are relatively safe, yet neither are risk-free. Both reduce your chances of developing serious obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
So which is which, and which is right for you?
Gastric Bypass Surgery
The basic idea behind gastric bypass surgery is simple: Reduce the size of the stomach in order to reduce the amount of food it can hold.
What Is Gastric Bypass? If you opt for gastric bypass surgery, a surgeon will divide your stomach into two parts: an upper part and a lower part. This reduces your functional stomach volume to the size of a small pouch. The intestine is then rerouted so that food goes straight from the pouch to the small intestine.
What Are the Benefits of Gastric Bypass? Patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery:
- Experience decreased appetite
- Feel full quicker
- Are able to eat less
- Absorb fewer calories, nutrients and minerals
Because they eat less and absorb less, many patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery are able to shed between 60 to 80 percent of their excess weight. Overall, it is a safe and effective weight loss method.
What Are the Risks of Gastric Bypass? Gastric bypass is a safe procedure, but, like all operations, it comes with risks. They include:
- Surgical complications (e.g., anesthesia risk, bleeding, leaks, infection, blood clots…)
- Dumping syndrome
- Digestive problems
- Malnutrition from lack of absorption
When Is It Recommended? Most doctors recommend gastric bypass to patients who suffer from morbid obesity (typically defined as a BMI exceeding 40).
Gastric banding is similar to gastric bypass, in that it reduces the size of the stomach. Instead of surgically dividing the stomach, however, it involves the insertion of a band.
What Is Gastric Banding? During this procedure, a surgeon places a silicone band around your upper stomach, thereby creating a small pouch.
What Are the Benefits of Gastric Banding? Unlike gastric bypass, gastric banding is reversible. It also does not interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, reducing the risk of malnutrition. At the end of the day, patients can lose anywhere between 40 to 50 percent of their excess weight. 1
What Are the Risks of Gastric Banding? The risks of gastric banding include:
- Surgical complications
- Less effective weight loss
- Risks arising from a foreign object (the band)
- Band erosion and malfunction
- Esophageal dilation
When Is It Recommended? Doctors sometimes use gastric banding for patients who are obese or morbidly obese. That being said, Dr. Mirza, Medical Director of First Street Hospital and Bariatric Care Centers, does not recommend the procedure, given the fact that the risks often outweigh the benefits.
How to Decide
At the end of the day, the only way to decide is to speak with a skilled bariatric surgeon. The doctors at 1st Choice Weight Loss have decades of experience performing bariatric surgeries, and they can advise you on which medical weight loss surgery would be appropriate in your case. Contact us to schedule a consultation and receive personalized advice about your weight loss options.
Disclaimer: This is only for general information. All patients should consult their doctors prior to following any of the recommendations in any articles, post, or video. Every patient has individual needs and limitations that only their treating physicians can be aware of.