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Criteria for Bariatric Surgery

Oct 28, 2016

Paying attention to your diet and following an exercise program do not always work for people interested in losing weight. Some of them opt for bariatric surgery to make changes to their digestive system to control their weight. There are different types of bariatric surgeries – some of them make your stomach smaller, while others change your small intestine to affect the way your body absorbs nutrients and calories from food. However, not everyone can go for bariatric surgery.

Criteria for Bariatric Surgery

You need to understand that weight-loss surgeries, including gastric bypass, are life-changing procedures. While these surgeries help lower your risk for hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and sleep apnea, they can lead to other complications. It is therefore important to meet specific medical guidelines to quality for gastric surgery. Your doctor may allow you to undergo a surgical procedure if:

  • You have failed to lose weight with a change in diet and exercise
  • Your BMI is greater than 40
  • Your BMI is between 35 and 39.9 but you have hypertension or other problems

Evaluating If You Need Bariatric Surgery

Even when you know the basic criteria for bariatric surgery, it is still important to work with a team of health professionals – including a dietitian, doctor, surgeon, and psychologist – to evaluate if you should really go for the procedure. You will have to make a decision considering the benefits and potential risks/complications of bariatric surgery. Your health team may consider the following when conducting an evaluation:

  • They get to know more about your nutrition and weight history. This involves paying a close attention to your weight trends, eating habits, diet attempts, stress level, exercise regimen, motivation, time constraints, and other factors.
  • They consider your medical condition before going any further. You may have to deal with serious side effects when you have an existing condition and choose to undergo a weight-loss surgery. This is especially true for people who already have heart problems, liver disease, blood clots, nutritional deficiencies, and kidney stones. Your medical team also considers the medications you may already be taking for your existing conditions.
  • They evaluate your psychological status before giving you a green signal. If you have an eating disorder or another psychological problem that has led to substance abuse, binge-eating disorder, anxiety disorders, or depression, you are less likely to experience the health effects of gastric surgery.
  • They also check your motivation level and determine if you are willing to follow all the recommendations they make after your surgery. You have to follow a certain diet and exercise routine after your surgery to maximize its benefits.
  • They also consider your age before tagging you as a good candidate for bariatric surgery. You are likely to deal with serious side effects after surgery if you undergo a procedure later in your life. Just like elderly people, someone under age 18 may not be a suitable candidate for bariatric surgery.

Types of Bariatric Surgery

Knowing the criteria for bariatric surgery is important, but you should also gather more information about the types of bariatric surgery before you make a decision. Here is more about different types of bariatric surgeries:

1. Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band

The procedure involves creating a small pouch by placing an inflatable band around the top of your stomach. This ensures that you feel full even when you have eaten a small amount of food. There is a circular balloon inside the band with a salt solution in it – your surgeon can change the amount of the solution with a small device to alter the size of the opening from the pouch to your stomach. You usually need several follow-up visits to ensure the size of the band opening is perfect. It is possible to remove the band if it does not help you achieve your weight loss goals.

2. Gastric Sleeve

Also called vertical sleeve gastrectomy, the procedure involves removing most part of your stomach except for a banana-shaped section, which is closed using staples. This limits the amount of food you need to keep your stomach full. Keep in mind that the procedure affects your gut hormones and gut bacteria because it involves the removal of a large part of your stomach. It is not possible to reverse the procedure.

3. Gastric Bypass

 Also called Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, it is a two-part procedure. First, your surgeon creates a pouch in the upper section of your stomach and staples it. This reduces the size of your stomach. Next up, your surgeon removes your small intestine and connects it with the small stomach pouch. This ensures that your body gets fewer calories from the food you eat. The procedure changes gut bacteria, gut hormones, and other factors that may affect your metabolism or appetite. It is very difficult to reverse the procedure, so, you should take your time before going for surgery.

4. Duodenal Switch

Also called biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch, the procedure involves performing two separate surgeries. Your first surgery will be similar to gastric sleeve surgery, whereas the second surgery changes the route of food in a way that it bypasses most of your small intestine. This surgery helps you lose weight a lot faster than other types of surgeries, but it can cause several problems, including a shortage of minerals, vitamins, and protein in the body.

You can also watch a video to get a clearer idea of these surgeries: 

What to Expect with Bariatric Surgery

Getting more information about the basic criteria for bariatric surgery is important because it tells you what to expect after the surgery. However, you should bear in mind that several factors determine how effective your surgery proves. Some people may lose more weight after surgery as compared to others who undergo the same procedure. Studies show that people with gastric band surgery lose an average of 45 pounds in 3 years, whereas they may lose up to 90 pounds with gastric bypass surgery. You may still regain weight but the process is usually very slow.