Is it Time to Consider Weight Loss Surgery?

Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of your weight in relation to your height, and is a primary criterion to determine your healthy weight:

  • BMI below 18.5 is underweight
  • BMI 18.5 – 24.9 is the normal or healthy weight
  • BMI 25.0 – 29.9means overweight
  • BMI 30.0 and more is considered obese

Obesity is a major cause of death as well as several serious health conditions including chronic heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Weight-loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is considered only in patients with extreme obesity. It is a treatment option for obese patients who have not succeeded in achieving a normal healthy weight following measures such as dieting, medication, and exercise. The criteria for weight loss surgery include:

  • BMI of 40 or higher
  • BMI of 35 to 40 with health problems such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure

Bariatric surgery promotes weight loss by decreasing the amount of food your stomach can hold and limiting the absorption of nutrients.

You will know that it’s time to consider weight loss surgery if:

  • You are ready for a new change in your lifestyle after surgery, such as following a carefully controlled diet and regular exercises.
  • You are fit enough to undergo surgery under general anaesthesia.
  • You are aware of the risks and benefits of the surgery.

Your doctor will also consider factors that will contraindicate you undergoing bariatric surgery. These may include serious illnesses such as liver disease and advanced cancer. As your compliance to post-operative lifestyle changes is critical to the positive outcome of the surgery, your doctor also considers factors such as alcohol or drug abuse, mental health condition, or previous history of non-compliance, which may impede this long-term commitment.

The common weight-loss surgeries include:

  • Gastric bypass surgery, also called Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, involves creating a small pouch on top your stomach and bypassing the flow of food directly to the small intestine, thereby avoiding absorption from the remaining part of the stomach.
  • Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) or lap band surgery involves separating your stomach into a small upper pouch and a larger lower pouch using an adjustable band. The food intake is restricted or limited by adjusting the band. This procedure is minimally invasive and offers slow and steady weight-loss.
  • Sleeve gastrectomy, also called tube gastrectomy, involves reducing the size of the stomach by stapling or by removing a large part of the stomach to reduce the absorption of food. After this procedure, your stomach appears like a tube rather than a pouch.
  • Biliopancreatic diversion (BPD) with duodenal switch is a complex surgical procedure which involves removing a large portion of the stomach and bypassing the food flow away from the upper portion of the small intestine.  This procedure offers significant weight loss, but can be associated with several complications.

Depending on your individual health and personal requirements, your surgeon will determine which of these methods will help achieve the best results in weight loss.