Understanding The Different
Types of Weight Loss Surgery

There are several types of weight loss surgery. Long gone are the days when "stomach stapling" was the only option!

These days you have the choice of surgically limiting the amount of food you can eat or rearranging the small intestine to limit the number of calories absorbed...

...or both.

Types of Weight Loss Surgery: Restrictive Procedure

This type of bariatric surgery alters the amount your stomach can hold. This can be achieved in a couple of ways:

  • Vertical Banded Gastroplasty (VBG)...sometimes referred to as "stomach stapling"...not done so often any more
  • Lap-Band

Your stomach's capacity, normally the size of a football, is reduced to about the size of an egg or a small lemon with these surgeries.

Buffets won't be an option afterward.

If you struggle with portion control, this type of bariatric surgery will force you to eat less...

...at one sitting.

It is possible, however, to eat relatively small amounts every hour or so, and thus over-consume calories and not lose an ounce (or over time regain lost weight).

You can also stretch your new smaller stomach if you consistently overeat after surgery, and then it will take more food (and calories) to fill you up. Oops! You just wasted this life-changing event!

Important Reminder:

ANY type of weight loss surgery is simply A TOOL to help you lose weight. Weight loss surgery is not a magic bullet.

Note: An up and coming restrictive surgery called Gastric Sleeve (VSG) is a restrictive procedure quickly becoming popular, although many insurance companies consider this an experimental weight loss surgery. A portion of your stomach is physically cut out in this procedure, in order to reduce the amount you can eat.

Sorry, there's no saving that extra piece of stomach in a jar on your desk in case you change your mind and want to have it sewn back in. Obviously this is not reversible!

Types of Weight Loss Surgery: Malabsorptive Procedures

Image what it would be like to eat, but not have your body absorb all of the calories from your food. That's what a malabsorptive surgery, like "Duodenal Switch" (BPD/DS), accomplishes.

Normally when you eat, food passes down to the stomach where it is temporarily held, then enters the first part of the small intestine, where nutrients (and calories) start to get absorbed.

Don't worry, things don't get re-routed in such a way that you'll be pooping out your knee, but it is pretty major to rearrange how mother nature intended food to be processed.

You should know that if you're malabsorbing food, you're also malabsorbing important nutrients and nutritional deficiencies can result...

...especially calcium, iron and B12 deficiencies. Life long vitamin/mineral supplementation is therefore necessary after a malabsorptive surgery. If it's hard to "remember" your vitamins, you should think twice about having a malabsorptive procedure.

Types of Weight Loss Surgery: Combined Procedure

Now, imagine what it would be like to be able to eat only ~ 1/2 cup food at a time, and have your body avoid absorbing all the calories from that 1/2 cup!

This is exactly what you get with the Roux-en-Y (also called RNY or gastric bypass surgery).

Your stomach is reduced to about the size of an egg and your small intestine is rearranged so that you malabsorb calories. (Don't forget the need for vitamin/mineral supplementation as mentioned above, with any malabsorptive procedure).

The amount of weight you can lose in the first year is greater with this procedure than the others, but there is the problem of nutritional deficiencies and also dumping syndrome.

Note: Studies are begining to emerge that show weight loss over the course of 3 years is comparable between Roux-en-Y and lap band procedures despite greater weight loss in the first year with Roux-en-Y. (In other words, lap band patients can achieve similar weight loss results over time, without subjecting themselves to the risks that go along with RNY.)

As with any of the procedures, you can "out smart" this one too, and prevent weight loss, or regain lost weight.

Read about real people's experiences with the various types of weight loss surgery to get an idea of what it's really like...

...both good and bad.

Surgery for Weight Loss: Open vs. Laparoscopic Surgery

How does the surgeon get into your belly to perform these surgeries?

He can cut you open in one long incision, from just below the breastbone to just above the navel, OR make several really small cuts and perform the surgery laparoscopically using cameras inserted through the incisions.

The laparoscope is a thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera!

The various types of weight loss surgery may be performed either open or laparoscopically.

However, a laparoscopic procedure usually means less pain, less scarring, fewer complications, and shorter recovery than open bariatric surgery.

A planned laparoscopic procedure can turn into an open surgery if there are problems in the operating room. For example, a large, fatty liver can make placing a lap band more difficult and result in a change to an open surgery in the middle of the operation. (Read more about the importance of a proper pre-bariatric-surgery diet in preventing a fatty liver).

If you're thinking about going to Mexico for weight loss surgery, you should know ahead of time what will happen if things don't go as planned in the O.R.!

Read more about each of the specific types of weight loss surgery:

More weight loss surgery.

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