Bariatric surgery can transform the medical journey to losing weight. Its primary goal is to limit food intake and calorie absorption. You'll likely see success immediately after because you'll find yourself unable to eat large volumes of food. In fact, a key concern after the surgery is making sure you're able to consume enough nutrients. You'll likely need to take some bariatric vitamins and meal replacements to ensure a balanced diet, and you might have to look into fortified foods such as protein cereal, protein chips, and so on. Your long-term success hinges on making positive lifestyle changes toward consistent, healthy eating.
How do I choose the right bariatric surgery?
You will need to discuss your options and medical history with your doctors. It's helpful to enter this discussion with some background knowledge regarding the types of bariatric surgery available. All of them vary on the extent of restriction (limiting volume of food intake) and malabsorption (reducing capacity to absorb fat and nutrients). The four most common bariatric surgeries are:
- Gastric banding (or "laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding) - A balloon is wrapped around your stomach, and then inflated or deflated with fluid through a port. This adjustment is made to reduce the size of your stomach as needed and focuses mainly on restriction.
- Sleeve gastrectomy - Part of your stomach is removed, restricting its capacity while also limiting production of appetite-stimulating ghrelin.
- Gastric bypass (or "roux-en-Y gastric bypass") - A small pouch is created in the stomach and is connected to the small intestine.
- Duodenal switch with biliopancreatic diversion - Part of your stomach is removed — restricting its volume — and your remaining stomach is connected to part of the small intestine (much further down than in other procedures), drastically reducing absorption.
How do I choose the right surgeon?
With so much information out there, you need to make sure you consult with someone reputable. Some places to look for bariatric surgery support include:
- Recommendations from existing doctors, such as your primary care physician
- Bariatric surgery seminars, which are hosted at hospitals, often by their doctors and staff.
- Doctor review sites, like ZocDoc, which have reviews from actual past patients
- Social media such as Instagram, where there is a huge bariatric surgery community, and where you can also potentially find insights on support groups to help with recovery