Is Weight Loss Surgery The Right Option For You?
It’s easy to get frustrated with dieting. We all get to the point where we feel we just can’t go on yoyo dieting anymore and feel the need to do something new to break the cycle.
For some who can afford it, weight loss surgery becomes one of their immediate thoughts. But how much does it cost? Will it work? Is it dangerous? And is it really the right option for you?
With so many questions to answer, we put together this guide for you to help you make a better-informed decision.
What are the benefits of weight loss surgery?
The benefits of weight loss surgery are clear. It takes away your option to continue eating as you normally do, and as a result, weight loss is guaranteed to happen, whether your mindset stays ‘in the zone’ or not.
Weight loss surgery can result in extremely rapid weight loss, and it can save the lives of those who are super-morbidly-obese, even when all else has failed. It can return a bedbound person who can’t even walk back into a normal, healthy human being within a year or 2. It truly is life-saving surgery for some people.
Another benefit of weight loss surgery is that it can actually genuinely reduce the constant sensation of hunger a morbidly obese person would constantly struggle with in their battle to stop overeating. Because most weight loss surgeries involve reducing the amount of stomach space available for your food to be stored in, it simply fills up faster than ever – in many cases, the patient is back to being satisfied with portion sizes they probably haven’t eaten since they were a toddler.
What is the cost of weight loss surgery?
The cost of weight loss surgery can vary massively dependant on where you live, where you’re willing to travel to and the state of your general health to begin with. But to give you some idea, here are some typical guide prices:
- Gastric bypass – $23 – $25k
- Lap band surgery – $13 – $15k
- Sleeve gastrectomy – $14 – $16k
- Duodenal switch – $20 – $30k
- The AspireAssist device – $7 – $13k
The cost of weight loss surgery isn’t currently covered by any health insurance, meaning you’ll have to bear the cost of this type of surgery privately. As you can see, weight loss surgery certainly isn’t a cheap or easy way out.
What are the weight loss surgery requirements I have to meet?
This very much depends on the surgery you’re planning to undergo, and the surgeon performing it. You will be required to have a full health check-up before being accepted for surgery, and in some cases your surgeon will put you on an extremely low-calorie liquid diet to enable you to get down to a safe weight before even allowing you to go under the knife.
To find out what your individual requirements are to qualify for weight loss surgery, it’s best to speak to your surgeon for advice.
What are the dangers of weight loss surgery?
All surgery carries some degree of risk of course, but for a morbidly obese patient, those risks are even greater. General anesthetic can be quite dangerous if your vital organs are already struggling to cope with the sheer weight you’re carrying, and there’s never any guarantees you will recover from any operation. However, if you’re super-morbidly obese, chances are your lifespan will be reduced because of this, and the surgery may still be worth the risk in order to prevent an early death caused by obesity.
Aside from the risk of general anesthetic, there are a few side effects you should be aware of before you embark on a weight loss surgery journey, such as:
- Acid reflux
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability to eat some foods for some time, or ever again in some cases
- Dilation of the esophagus
- ‘Dumping syndrome’ – (a condition whereby your body struggles to cope with food, causing extreme muscle cramps and often diarrhea)
- Malnutrition – Caused by the inability to eat adequate amounts of nutritious food, or you eating the wrong types of food when they do eat)
- Bowel obstruction
- Internal bleeding
These issues may sound scary, but if you truly have no other option which will genuinely make you lose your excess weight and your life is at risk, you may still find yourself considering weight loss surgery.
What are my weight loss surgery options?
There are a few different types of weight loss surgery, with both permanent and temporary options. Some have been around for many decades, some just a year or 2.
Here are the main options available to you:
Gastric bypass surgery is an invasive procedure which can take up to 3 hours to perform and involves 3 or more nights stay in hospital, despite it usually being performed via keyhole surgery.
During the operation, the surgeon effectively creates a ‘new’ smaller stomach from your existing stomach, but leaves the part of the stomach you’ll no longer be using in place. They ‘re-route’ your stomach so that food is only able to be stored in the new ‘stomach’, which is much smaller than your existing stomach was. This results in you only being able to eat very small portions moving forward. In fact, for several weeks, you will be on a liquid-only diet while your stomach heals.
Lap band surgery
Lap band surgery is less invasive than many other types of bariatric surgery, and is usually performed via keyhole surgery. It basically involves tying a ‘band’ around the top portion of the stomach, stopping the patient from being able to eat as much food as quickly as they usually would. A person with a lap band fitted is generally only able to eat food portions the size of their fist, even after a full recovery. This inevitably leads to an incredible amount of weight loss very quickly.
A sleeve gastrectomy (also known as a gastric sleeve) is a permanent form of weight loss surgery, in which a large portion of your stomach is fully removed, and you are left with a much smaller ‘banana shaped’ stomach. This new stomach can obviously only hold a limited amount of food, so it’s inevitable you will lose weight very quickly and permanently following surgery – even if you previously ate enough to become morbidly obese to a point of being bed-bound.
Duodenal switch surgery involves both performing a sleeve gastrectomy (as described above), followed by the separation of the duodenum (the section of tube which food passes into immediately after leaving the stomach), from the small intestine.
The first portion of the duodenum is then reattached to the small intestine, but at a much later point, so that rather than digestion occuring within the approx 20ft of small intestine it usually would, it will now only have around 10ft of small intestine to travel through. The result is that the body absorbs much fewer calories and nutrients from the food you do manage to eat taking into account your new, smaller stomach. As you can imagine, this surgery is extremely effective at causing rapid weight loss. This is the most invasive and effective weight loss surgery currently in existence, but it’s also completely non-reversible – so you have to be sure you’re certain you want to go through with the procedure before you do.
The AspireAssist device
The AspireAssist device essentially involves having a drainage tube inserted into your stomach which can then be used to drain around 30% of your meal directly from your stomach into the toilet after every meal. The surgery is controversial and relatively new, but its an effective option which can be used on a short or long term basis.
Which weight loss surgery procedure would be the best for you?
The first thing you need to consider when deciding on which weight loss surgery to go for is whether you want a permanent solution or a temporary one. This is a very personal choice, and one only you can make.
The next hurdle which will without a doubt have an impact on your decision is the cost factor. Some surgeries (usually the temporary solutions) are cheaper than others. Take a look at the costs of weight loss surgery above to help you with your decision.
Lastly, one or another weight loss surgery may be more suitable for your needs, dependant on your current weight and the reasons you overeat.
If you’re just a few pounds overweight for instance, it would be much wiser to opt for lifestyle and dietary changes. On the contrary, if you’re super-morbidly obese and almost certainly facing an early death due to your weight issues, permanent weight loss surgery may well be the best option for you to help you to get your life back on track (or even save it!).
Whichever option you decide to take, if surgery is looking to be the right option for you, you will need counseling both before and afterward to help you to make the right decision, and also to adjust to the huge lifestyle changes you will face following the operation.
Try the natural route before going under the knife
There’s no doubt about it, healthy lifestyle changes are immensely preferable to taking the drastic step of opting for weight loss surgery. The only exception should be when your life is in danger if you take no action, and you’ve repeatedly tried and failed to lose the weight naturally for many years.
The key to long-lasting weight loss is to stop crash dieting, and instead make small, permanent changes to your lifestyle which become so normal to you, they become a part of who you are.
- Instead of filling half of your plate with fries, fill it with salad
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
- Join a gym and attend at least 3 times per week
- Swap your sugary snacks to fruit or veggies
These are just a few examples of small, sustainable changes you can begin with.
In addition, controlling your appetite is extremely important in the battle against obesity. After all, it’s hard to cut out fatty foods when you’re constantly craving anything and everything you can get your hands on. Thankfully, it is possible to ‘trick’ your brain into feeling satisfied for longer with the help of natural supplements such as PhenQ. If you’ve never tried these before, they can be a real game changer when trying to stick to a healthier diet – give them a try!
Have you undergone weight loss surgery? Which type? And what was your experience like? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!