What Are Bariatric Surgeries and Their Benefits

Bariatric Surgeries stand as a very big option for patients suffering from Chronic Obesity. Thanks to these surgeries, people suffering from obesity who haven’t been able to get any solutions from dieting or exercising, can lose a lot of weight really quickly. Not just that, but Bariatric Surgery has also been shown to help cure a lot of other chronic conditions and even diabetes.

There are four main Bariatric Surgeries that people can undergo. The first most common one is the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass where the surgeon cuts parts of the stomach and connects the small intestine to what remains, thus lowering the amount of food your stomach can consume before you’re full, simply known as the Gastric Bypass. The second is the Sleeve Gastrectomy or Gastric Sleeve, which operates in a similar way to the Gastric Bypass but relies on cutting off most of the stomach and leaving what remains as a banana-shaped pouch.

Then there’s the Adjustable Gastric Band or “The Band”, where a small pouch is made in the stomach and kept sealed by a band, the pouch essentially acts as the stomach in this case, thus making it easier for someone to become full before it then passes the food that was consume down to the rest of the stomach. This operation however, takes longer to take effect and has fallen out of favour.

Lastly there’s the Biliopnacreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch or BPD/DS which is rarely operated, mostly due to the fact that it has the highest risk of complications and after the operation, patients have to follow specific guidelines on what they can or can’t eat. That and the risk of developing vitamin and protein deficiencies (which all of this operations have a chance of causing) are way higher than any of the other operations.

It’s actually kind of amazing how these came to be. Surgeries like the Gastric Bypass and Sleeve were discovered by accident. The Gastric Bypass was originally supposed to be about resolving stomach ulcers, but the doctor who performed it, Dr. Edward Mason of the University of Iowa, realised that patients who had the surgery were losing weight rapidly.

The discovery of the Sleeve was even more accidental – the doctor who originally did it thought that he had done a grave mistake, only to realise the benefits it had on his patient later.

Of course, all of these operations have been shown to have their risks, and in order to have these done people still have to qualify for them – a process that requires trying to diet and exercise first, and making sure that they fall into a specific weight range as it is dangerous to operate on someone who is too high of a weight as well. There are also studies that have looked into how cost effective Bariatric Surgeries are and whether patients were able to save money after they had the surgery, since they no longer had to rely on medications for their obesity or any other medical conditions they might have had.

However, the fact that these Bariatric Surgeries show results, they are supposed to be a last ditch effort for when there’s nothing else that can be done, which is the case for a lot of people. Just in North America alone, there are twenty four million people who qualify for a Bariatric Surgery, of which only 200,000 people take. This is because there’s, sadly, still a lot of judgement when it comes to getting these operations.

People tend to look at obesity as something that can be easily overcome with exercise or dieting. Because of this they tend to look at those that resort to Bariatric Surgery as lazy people that have given up. There’s also the fact that not many people actually know about how Bariatric Surgeries work, the effects and issues they can have, some people think there are more risks than there actually are (which is the case for some of them) while other think that it’s just a quick fix that won’t really have any lasting effects.

This is proof of how much people still have to learn in regards to medicine and the body. While the effects of these surgeries are still being investigated, doctors and scientists can at least agree that, for people who really need it, it’s honestly the best choice.


Photo Credits: Genesis Health System, Dr. Randeep Wadhawan, Stefano Marianelli

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