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Weight Loss Surgery: Exploring the Options, Benefits, and Risks

Written by: Karen Duncan

Two Types of Weight Loss Surgery
There are two basic types of surgeries done to facilitate weight loss, which are referred to as either malabsorptive or restrictive surgery. With the malabsorptive method, surgery shortens the small intestine, changing where it connects with the stomach in order to limit the quantity of food and nutrients absorbed. This type of surgery is often done in conjunction with restrictive surgery, in which the actual size of the stomach is made smaller.

Restrictive Weight Loss Surgery Limits Food Intake
Restrictive surgery limits how much food one can eat, causing a feeling of fullness sooner than usual. With both methods, weight loss is more likely as the stomach, or small intestine, is now able to hold considerably smaller amounts of food.

Weight Loss Surgery is a Viable Option for those Consider Obese
Generally, in order to be considered an ideal candidate for weight loss surgery, one must be considered obese, which is having a body mass index (BMI) of over 40. This equates to approximately 80 pounds above the normal weight for women, and 100 pounds over the ideal weight for men. For those under a BMI of 40 but who may still have life-threatening concerns such as diabetes or heart disease, weight loss surgery may also be considered as a viable option.

Psychological Counseling Maybe Required Before Surgery
Undergoing nutritional counseling both before and after surgery are usually required, as well as a rather thorough screening process. This process must include apparent proof that many other methods of dieting and weight loss have failed thus far. Some doctors even require patients to undergo psychological counseling prior to surgery. This is to assure both doctors and surgeons that their patients will understand how the digestive system will change, and also that they have clear knowledge of the long-term commitment involved as they must always adhere to certain dietary guidelines.

Some other requirements may include:

- Being obese for at least the past five years.
- Having no addictions, such as alcohol.
- Having no sign of depression, or any type of psychiatric disorder.
- Being between the ages of 18 and 65.

Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery
Some of the benefits of having some type of weight loss surgery include a drastic weight reduction in a relatively short amount of time. The majority of people tend to lose weight in this manner for as long as two years following surgery.

However, these same people will also start to regain some of those lost pounds after those first few years, and some may even regain it all, and then some. Many diabetes patients also experience the benefits of normal blood sugar levels after having surgery.

Frequent Vomiting is a Side Effect of Weight Loss Surgery
The most common side effect of weight loss surgery is the potential for frequent vomiting. This is due to the smaller stomach, or food that may not be chewed well enough, which stretches the stomach beyond its limits, causing the food to "back up" into the throat. Nutritional deficiencies are also common after surgery, but are avoidable with a dietary plan involving vitamins and mineral supplements.

Surgery Isn't a Miracle Cure
Lifestyle changes are still necessary after weight loss surgery, as it isn't intended to be used as a miracle cure for obesity, or as a replacement for sensible eating and exercise. A lifelong dedication to monitoring nutritional intake along with a firm commitment to exercise must both be a part of any overall plan for better health.


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