Bariatric Surgery


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For individuals who are morbidly obese or suffering from health problems due to their weight, bariatric surgery is an option to consider. Bariatric weight loss surgery changes the structure of the digestive system to make weight loss easier and faster. While not an option for everyone, it can make the battle to lose weight more effective for select individuals.

What Is Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is designed for very obese people who need to lose a significant amount of weight. It makes weight loss happen in one of two ways. The first, known as restriction, limits the amount of food the stomach can hold by making the stomach smaller — in essence, the individual feels full after a small meal. The second, known as malabsorption, disconnects the stomach from the digestive system so food passes directly into the intestinal tract, causing fewer calories and nutrients to be absorbed. A few surgeries combine both of these techniques.

How Does Weight Loss Surgery Effect the Endocrine System?

This type of weight loss surgery has an affect on the endocrine system. When the individual is successful at losing weight through surgery, it can improve or even eliminate diabetes. One form of surgery — the roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) — can improve diabetes even before weight loss occurs.

This surgery can also lower bad cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol levels. For people with PCOS or other fertility problems, the surgery can help improve hormone levels and increase fertility. Men who are obese and lose weight through surgery may notice increased testosterone levels.

Yet the surgery has the potential to damage the endocrine system. The smaller digestive system may not allow for proper absorption of nutrients, leading to macronutrient or micronutrient deficiencies. Low blood glucose levels also can occur.

Weight Loss Surgery Means a Lifestyle Change

Many people view gastric bypass surgery as the solution to their obesity. While it can, and often is, an effective option, it does not mean all problems will disappear. In fact, surgery means a lifetime of follow-up treatments.

First, the patient needs to be taught how to eat healthy with the new digestive system. Then, doctors will need to monitor the patient for signs of negative effects on the body, such as nutrient absorption issues. Finally, if the patient does not follow the advice of doctors after surgery, then further overeating can lead to weight gain again.

If you are considering bariatric weight loss surgery as an option for your weight problem, talk to your doctor first about the benefits and potential risks of this surgery. Then, learn if you are a candidate for the procedure. Because of the potential risks, doctors may hesitate to offer this option to patients who are not dealing with negative health effects from their weight. Also, in order to be a candidate for weight loss surgery, a patient needs to prove that other avenues of weight loss are not working.

For select candidates, surgery can provide a solution to help them finally lose weight and embrace a healthier lifestyle. If you have struggled with weight control and are beginning to see negative health effects as a result, talk to your doctor about surgical options to help.

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