Most people put on a few extra pounds from time to time – especially around the holidays.
When you want to lose 10, 20 or even 30 pounds, you may tackle it with diet and exercise. But what if you have 100 pounds or more to lose?
Diet and exercise are always a vital part of getting to and maintaining a healthy weight, but dealing with obesity may add an extra degree of difficulty. Some people may consider weight loss surgery to help lose excess weight. In fact, more than 250,000 people across the United States chose this avenue in 2018.
If this is an option you are considering, here are some things you should know before taking the plunge:
What is weight loss surgery?
There are several weight loss procedures, and your doctor can help you decide which will work best for you. For example, gastric bypass involves creating a small stomach pouch that attaches to a section of the small intestine. Food skips over a portion of the small intestine, so your body doesn’t absorb as many calories. The smaller stomach also doesn’t hold as much food, so you should feel more full. Or you might go with a gastric band surgery, which puts an adjustable band around your stomach to make you feel full sooner. And in a gastric sleeve or duodenal switch surgery, the surgeon removes the majority of your stomach. While all these achieve similar results, your doctor may feel one is more appropriate for your condition than another.
“Obesity is a serious health concern among all age groups, including elderly individuals,” says Sarah Hilton, a registered nurse. “Although all surgeries have some risks, weight loss surgery can be a safe option to help lose weight and improve quality of life.”
Am I a good candidate?
Being overweight doesn’t make you a good candidate for weight loss surgery automatically. A person with a body mass index of 25 is generally considered overweight, but this BMI would not be a good candidate for the surgeries mentioned thus far. However, someone with a BMI of 40 might be considered for surgery. A person with a BMI of 35 and certain health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and breathing injuries could also be a candidate. Along with these criteria, somebody who wants to have weight loss surgery needs to be prepared to make lifestyle changes and undergo follow-up care to ensure the surgery is successful in the long-term.
What should I expect after the surgery?
After you have weight loss surgery, you should not expect all your extra pounds to fall off right away. These surgeries can help you lose weight and improve health conditions associated with obesity, but surgery doesn’t do all this on its own. Healthy eating and exercise are necessary to lose weight and keep it off, whether you undergo surgery or not. After having surgery, you will likely need to take vitamin supplements to make sure you are getting enough nutrients. You might have to eat small portion sizes. Some of the lifestyle changes you will have to make could be difficult, and joining a support group can help.
Don’t expect weight loss surgery to be the only answer to your trouble with excess weight. It can be a big help, but you will need to put in the work to stay healthy long-term. Your doctor can give you the information and support you need to stick with a healthy lifestyle to ensure your weight loss surgery is as successful as possible.
A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.