Surgery is never the first course of treatment for any injury or medical condition. However, after trying more conservative approaches and progressing through more advanced treatments, surgical intervention is often the best choice.
The same is true for obesity — a medical condition that affects 42.4% of all Americans.
If you’ve tried to lose weight by following a healthy diet and increasing your activity level with no luck, you may be ready for more advanced treatment options.
When you reach that point, there’s no better place to find understanding and expert medical care than the Surgical Consultants of Northern Virginia here in Reston. Our board-certified team of surgeons specializes in helping people who’ve been struggling with overweight and obesity for years finally get healthy.
We understand that the thought of any surgery can be overwhelming, and the decision to undergo weight loss surgery is highly personal and based on multiple variables. Keep reading to find out what’s involved, so you can determine whether it’s right for you.
Know what’s involved in weight loss surgery
Before you consider undergoing weight loss surgery, you need to know what’s involved. Basically, weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, is a way to change the capacity of your stomach so you eat less and lose weight.
There are several ways to accomplish this, including the gastric sleeve procedure and the gastric bypass procedure.
If you opt for gastric sleeve surgery, our expert surgeons remove about 80% of your stomach, leaving you with a slim pouch or sleeve about the size of a banana.
For a few days during your recovery in the hospital, you consume only sugar-free clear liquids. After you leave, you can have sugar-free drinks and shakes for about a week. For a couple of weeks after that, you can have some pureed foods, and then finally graduate to more solid options.
Expect to feel full much faster than before your surgery. As the weight begins to drop off, you should notice lower blood pressure and cholesterol and improved diabetes symptoms.
Most gastric sleeve patients lose about 65% of their body weight after three years.
Like gastric sleeve surgery, gastric bypass surgery creates a much smaller stomach, but the approach is different. Here, we create two sections of your stomach using surgical staples. The upper portion is the part that receives the food you eat, and it’s only about the size of a walnut.
We attach your small intestine to this upper pouch and effectively reroute your digestive system. The result is not only a smaller receptacle for food, but it also decreases your ability to absorb calories, so it’s a double-whammy weight loss treatment.
You have to follow the same diet restrictions post-op, and can expect to lose up to 70% of your body weight over three years.
How to know if weight loss surgery is right for you
Weight loss surgery isn’t right for everybody. In fact, there are specific medical qualifications you must meet before we consider you a candidate.
- You must be at least 100 pounds over your healthy weight
- Your BMI must be at least 40 (or 35 if you have related health problems)
- You must be between the ages of 18 and 75
In addition to these requirements, there are several personal issues you must weigh for yourself.
You’ve tried everything else
As we mentioned, surgery should never be the first line of treatment. Have you tried more conservative methods of weight loss, including diet, exercise, nutritional counseling, hormone assessment, and metabolic analysis?
If you’re experiencing a health issue that’s interfering with your ability to lose weight, it’s best to treat that issue first to enable your body to shed excess weight naturally.
You understand the risks of surgery
Every surgical procedure comes with at least minor risks. Bleeding, infection, and acid reflux are a few that may occur with bariatric surgery, but we can discuss the complete details during your consultation.
You need to be healthy enough to undergo the surgical procedure and mentally and emotionally capable of understanding what’s required of you.
Fortunately, our experienced team uses minimally invasive robotic surgical techniques whenever possible, so your risks are low and your recovery is much quicker than with traditional open surgery.
You’re committed to a healthy new lifestyle
Bariatric surgery is the beginning of an exciting journey that leads to a healthier you, but it doesn’t mean you’re free to keep eating whatever you want.
In order for your surgery to succeed, you need to follow a strict diet for the rest of your life and commit to turning over a new leaf. It’s important to establish a strong support group of family and friends who can encourage you as you transition from your old habits.
If you’re ready to consider bariatric surgery, schedule a consultation with our team to find out if you’re a qualified candidate. Call us or book your appointment online today.