Everyone knows America is getting fatter. The obesity problem in our country has grown so much that many are calling it an epidemic. Diets are notorious for not working – we don’t lose much, begin to eat normally again, and wham – we gain MORE weight. What can we do to win the fight against obesity? Diets? They seem to not work for most. Exercise? How many times has exercise been tried only to fail as well? Pills? Another option that seems to fail as soon as things go back to normal.

One option that just might work is weight-loss surgery. A little extreme? Perhaps, but if this option will get the weight off and get you healthy, perhaps it’s an option worth looking in to.

There are three basic types of weight loss surgery:

  1. Lap Band
  2. Gastric Sleeve
  3. Gastric Bypass

Let’s delve into each of these and learn the basic differences. Each has pros and cons, which should be researched and considered before making a decision.

Lap Band

Lap Band surgery is the least invasive of the weight loss surgeries. It is done laparoscopically, and there are no staples or amputation of any part of the stomach. Additionally, there is no cutting of the intestines. One major advantage to this choice is the surgery can be reversed simply by having the band removed.

This surgery works by reducing the stomach’s capacity, which restricts how much you can eat at any one time. You’ll feel full much quicker, and keep that feeling longer than before the surgery.

Gastric Sleeve

Gastric Sleeve surgery is a new type of Bariatric surgery. Approximately 85% of the stomach is removed, and the part remaining is shaped like a sleeve, thus the name. This surgery is also performed laparoscopically. 

This surgery works by reducing the physical size of the stomach, and is not reversible. There are a few other cons, such as leaking of the sleeve, or weight gain over time due to stretching the remaining portion of the stomach.

Gastric Bypass

There are a couple of different types of gastric bypass surgery, with Roux-en-Y  being the most common. This type of surgery is done by sealing a large portion of your stomach, leaving a small pouch which can hold about one ounce versus the normal three pints. The surgeon cuts the small intestine and sews part of it onto the new pouch. Any foods eaten bypass most of your stomach as well as the first part of your intestine and enters the middle of the intestine.

The cons to gastric bypass are similar to those of the gastric sleeve surgery.

Before Surgery

Serious thought should be given to any of these choices. Choose a surgeon wisely – ask questions, be sure the surgeon has performed many surgeries with high rates of success. Do a lot of research, learn everything you can, then make an appointment. The process isn’t simply deciding to do it, and TA-DA, it’s done. On the contrary, it is a process. You will most likely have to see a Psychologist, go through an array of medical tests, and have sessions with exercise physiologists and nutritionists. Expect this to take about six months.

After Surgery

Even after surgery, don’t expect miracles. You do have to make some changes to your lifestyle. The surgeries are a tool that help improve the chances of your success – but there are no guarantees. You MUST make some changes, or any weight lost initially can come back in time.

Ultimately, it’s up to you. Even surgery isn’t a miracle cure for obesity. It can be a huge help though, and may be something worth pursuing, especially if you have other obesity-related health issues. Imagine being diabetic and no longer needing insulin – or no longer having high blood pressure. There are a lot of benefits as well risks. Consider both, talk with a surgeon after doing some research, and make a decision based on what is best for you. Here’s looking to a longer, healthier life no matter which decision is made!