Bariatric surgery isn’t for everyone. There are risks, financial considerations and medical issues to take into account.
Weight loss surgery isn’t a magic wand – If you choose to undergo surgery, you will still have to modify your diet and eating habits before and after the procedure.
Our LifeShape programs are an excellent alternative to bariatric surgery. We can help you make healthy lifestyle changes to achieve long term health and weight loss.
What is Bariatric Surgery
Obesity surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, may be used to assist in weight loss in severely obese patients. These major and mostly irreversible procedures are done to in order to reduce food intake or speed up its process through the body to elimination. It can be either a restrictive or diversion (malabsorptive) type of surgery.
These changes require a lifetime of careful management. Recent FY17 data from the Australian Bariatric Surgery Register (BRS) shows that of the 30,000 patients in its records, over 8,000 have had multiple procedures indicating failures of the initial surgeries to provide satisfactory weight loss. An important fact to note is that in obese people there is no clinical disease of the stomach or intestines which requires surgical change or removal.
Making A Lifestyle Change
The irony of bariatric surgery is that if the necessary recommendations around eating behaviour post surgery were implemented prior to surgery – bariatric surgery would not be needed. The effects of the surgery mechanically forces patients to adjust their eating behaviours due to their significantly reduced stomach volumes. The act of surgery is a de facto block on previous eating behaviours. For those that don’t change and learn to ingest high calorie soft foods, weight loss and health improvements won’t occur. For those that do the ensuing health benefits are the same that can be achieved by changing to a sustainable healthy eating and activity pattern. The key learning is that no one should undertake bariatric surgery without seriously undertaking a well designed lifestyle and behaviour change weight loss program with a qualified team of clinicians.
What are the Potential Risks?
What are the Types of Surgery?
The Australian Bariatric Surgery Register (BRS) shows that the most common procedure is the Sleeve Gastrectomy at 65% with Gastric Bands now falling to 9% of procedures. Patients are 80% female, have a BMI of 43 (morbidly obese category) and 14% reporting Diabetes.
The purpose of Gastric Bands and Sleeve Gastrectomies is to reduce the volume of a normal stomach from one
The other type of surgery, diversion surgery such as Roux-Y Gastric Bypass RYGB and Single Anastomosis Gastric Bypass SAGB, involves intestinal diversion bypassing a large absorptive region of the small intestine. This type of surgery reduces the digestion and absorption of foods and is best described as weight loss through malabsorption of food passing rapidly through the intestinal tract to elimination.
Who Is Bariatric Surgery For?
Bariatric surgery is not a ‘silver bullet’ as it is treatment therapy that still requires extensive lifestyle changes. Post-surgery, there are specific eating strategies that need to be followed by patients, as well as some foods that must be strictly avoided. Food-related issues such as overeating and binge eating, excessive alcohol intake and a range of non-hunger eating cues must be examined prior to surgery and continue to be managed post-surgery in order for bariatric surgery to be successful. Bariatric surgery is only a tool and the patient must be prepared to make the necessary changes for it work. The patient must follow the nutritional and exercise recommendations and make appropriate lifestyle and behavior modifications around food composition and activity.
What Does Surgery Cost?
Bariatric surgery is expensive and can cost at least $10,000 – $15,000 for patients without private health insurance and often these costs do not cover the necessary follow up care which is highly recommended.
What Behavioural & Lifestyle Changes are Still Required?
It is important that foods and fluids are consumed separately to avoid food being ‘washed’ down. Consuming food and fluids together tends to result in reduced satiety and often a greater energy intake. Grazing and unstructured snacking is not recommended and patients need to pay close attention to meal timing. It can be a balancing act to ensure that meals are of sufficient volume and quality to help reduce grazing habits, yet small enough to avoid physical discomfort and/or vomiting and weight stabilization or gain. Patients still need to manage their energy intake. For example, milk and ice cream are easy to manage with a Gastric Band, however their high-caloriecontent make it easy to consume too much energy, therefore leading to poor weight loss or even weight gain.
Rate of Weight Loss and Follow Up
After bariatric surgery, provided the guidelines are adhered to, blood glucose levels may return to normal in up to 50% of people without diabetes medication. Depending on the type of surgery undertaken improved glucose control is achieved by different mechanisms. Following Gastric Bands is related to weight loss which is relatively slow but following more extreme bypass procedures it is related to the effects of surgery on the stomach and its mechanical and hormonal pathways. This is not clearly understood.
Do People Fail to Lose Weight
There is a role for bariatric surgery in people that simply have no other option; but it comes with procedural risk and the price of permanent change to food composition, texture and eating style far beyond that of a healthy eating pattern. Those requirements should be considered carefully by any person thinking of bariatric surgery.
No one should undertake bariatric surgery without first seriously attempting a lifestyle weight loss program with the input of a multidisciplinary team of clinicians. Our LifeShape programs are an excellent alternative to bariatric surgery. We can help you make healthy lifestyle changes to achieve long term health and weight loss.
*Bariatric Surgery Registry, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, link.
“I had tried other programs in the past, but they only worked to a certain extent. I was facing surgery as my only other option which I really didn’t want to resort to. When I found out the weight loss was supervised by Doctors, I finally decided to give it a try.” – Peter