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Health and Fitness News

Slim Pickings

Five different types of weight-loss surgery.

After years of yo-yo dieting and trying multiple diet programs, pills, and potions, you’ve had enough. Your health is at risk, you’re tired of being overweight, and you want your life back. You and your doctor have come to the decision it’s time to consider weight-loss surgery. When it comes to bariatric surgery, there’s no one-size-fits-all option. Several types of surgeries are available and each comes with its own set of pros, cons, and potential risks. The type you choose will depend on your current health, doctor’s recommendation, weight-loss goals, and what your health insurance covers.

The three main types of weight loss surgery include restrictive (your stomach is made smaller so you eat less and digest food slower), malabsorptive/restrictive (your stomach is made smaller and part of the small intestine is removed to lessen the amount of calories absorbed from food), and electrical device implantation (a newer technique that implants a device to interrupt communication between the stomach and brain).

What can you expect from each?

Adjustable Gastric Banding

This type of restrictive weight-loss surgery places an inflatable band around the stomach that squeezes the stomach into a smaller upper pouch and a larger lower pouch. These sections are separated by a narrow channel, which slows the rate at which food passes through. The band can be adjusted to shrink or widen the channel, or removed at a later date. Because the first section is small, you can only eat a half-cup to one cup of soft food before feeling full or sick, and your digestive system is still able to absorb the nutrients and calories you eat.

Gastric banding is simpler and safer than other surgeries but doesn’t provide drastic weight loss like other alternatives.

Sleeve Gastrectomy

Sleeve gastrectomy, another type of restrictive surgery, removes most of the stomach and reforms the remaining stomach into a tube that connects to the small intestine. After a surgery like this you can’t eat as much food and you’re not as hungry as you once were, but your body is still able to absorb nutrients and calories. Sleeve gastrectomy is considered low risk compared to other surgeries, but it’s also irreversible.

Gastric Bypass

Also known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, this type of surgery is both restrictive and malabsorptive, meaning your body absorbs fewer nutrients and calories than normal. The most common of all weight-loss surgeries, gastric bypass creates a small upper stomach that is then connected to a lower part of the small intestine. Food fills the small stomach portion and travels to the small intestine where it’s digested with normal stomach acids. A smaller stomach means less food can be eaten and since part of the small intestine is skipped, fewer calories and nutrients are absorbed.

This surgery is irreversible, but weight loss is fast and dramatic, health improves quickly, and the weight stays off. Negative side effects include nutritional deficiencies and dumping syndrome that may causes nausea, pain, diarrhea, and weakness.

Biliopancreatic Diversion

The biliopancreatic-diversion weight-loss surgery is similar to, yet more drastic than gastric bypass. A good portion of the stomach is removed and the stomach is connected further down the small intestine.

The remaining stomach may be larger than other surgeries allow, which lets you eat more food. However, fewer calories and nutrients are absorbed, leading to fast and dramatic weight loss. The biliopancreatic diversion surgery comes with the greatest risk for malnutrition and is the most complicated and dangerous of all weight-loss surgeries.

Maestro Rechargeable System

You’ve heard of a pacemaker for your heart, but did you know there’s a pacemaker for your stomach? Called the Maestro Rechargeable System, this device is surgically placed in your abdomen where it sends electrical impulses along the vagus nerve that communicates between the stomach and brain. The impulses tell your brain your stomach is full, helping you to eat less. Least invasive of all weight-loss surgeries, the device has a battery that must be recharged on a regular basis in order to work properly. Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, belching, heartburn, and trouble swallowing.