How Does Weight Loss Surgery Work?

There isn’t just one operation. There are several kinds of these metabolic and bariatric surgeries, as doctors call them. They work in one of the following ways:

  1. Limit how much food your stomach can hold, so you eat less and lose weight.
  2. Stop your digestive system from absorbing some of the calories and nutrients in the foods you eat.
  3. Use both of the above methods.
BMI for Bariatric Surgery

Weight Requirements

You need to have a lot of extra pounds to be a candidate for weight loss surgery:

  • Body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more (more than100 pounds overweight).
  • BMI of 35-40 (about 80 pounds overweight) and you have diabetes or a metabolic syndrome, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or obstructive sleep apnea. (Your doctor will have the full list.)
  • BMI of 30-35 and you have a certain kind of diabetes or a combination of other serious health conditions called the metabolic syndrome. 
doctors prepping for surgery

Types of Weight Loss Surgery

There are different kinds. Some, like the gastric “sleeve” and gastric banding, shrink your stomach’s size. They are restrictive surgeries. Other operations, such as the duodenal switch, only bypass part of the intestine, so you absorb less food. Doctors call these malabsorptive surgeries.

Discussing Gastric Bypass Surgery

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Your doctor will screen you carefully to check that you are physically and mentally ready for the surgery, as well as prepared to commit to the big changes needed to keep the pounds off. You’ll discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure you’re considering. Your doctor may ask you to do some things before the surgery, such as quit smoking, lose some weight, and make sure your blood sugar is under control.

Clear Liquids Only Before Gastric Bypass Surgery

Preparing for Surgery

Your doctor will tell you exactly what you need to do. You’ll avoid aspirin or any products that have it, and herbal supplements, 1 week before your operation. You’ll need to eat or drink only clear liquids for 24-48 hours beforehand. You’ll get general anesthesia during the surgery.

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