What is Bariatric Surgery?
(BSIG) The numerous advancements in medical technology which have occurred in the past decades have allowed us to come up with many life-saving procedures, and a large number of them fall under the category of bariatric surgeries.
To explain it in other words, the term refers to surgical weight loss procedures which are, more often than not, performed out of necessity and a lack of other options. In most cases, these procedures consist of reducing the size of the stomach or rerouting the small intestines to the small stomach pouch.
How effective is bariatric surgery?
Fortunately, a number of studies have already been conducted on the subject, and it was demonstrated that “the procedures cause significant long-term loss of weight, recovery from diabetes, improvement in cardiovascular risk factors, and a reduction in mortality of 23% from 40%”. 
An Overview of Bariatric Surgery Procedures
The types of procedures one can undergo can be separated into three main groups: malabsorptive, restrictive and combined ones. The first group contains procedures which reroute the small intestine so that a certain percentage of the food never gets absorbed by the system.
There are two main malabsorptive bariatric surgeries to choose from:
- Biliopancreatic diversion: Half of the stomach is cut out, the way in which the food reacts with bile and digestive juices is changed and a short canal is formed between the alimentary limb and the colon. As such, the body can absorb nutrients, calories and carbs with far less efficiency. [2a]
- Biliopancreatic diversion with a duodenal switch: This procedure is the same as the one described above, with the differences lying in the fact that a gastric sleeve is used, a different part of the stomach is removed, and the alimentary limb is attached to another part of the stomach. This allows the user to eat more, but in exchange for more frequent bowel movements. [2b]
As far as restrictive surgeries go, there are once again two to make a choice from:
- Adjustable Gastric Banding: This procedure aims to reduce food intake with the use of a gastric band which is used to constrict to upper part of the stomach. Long story short, it simply prevents the patient from eating large quantities of food. [2c]
- Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy: Some call this surgical procedure rather brash and intrusive seeing as how it removes 85% of the stomach. However, it does not affect the intestinal tract, and the remaining pouch still permits the stomach to function as it did. This procedure works because it removes the part of the stomach responsible for the production of Ghrelin, the hunger hormone. [2d]
To finish things off, as far as the surgical procedures go, there is one that combines the best of both worlds, and it is called Roux-en-Y Bypass. It works more simply than it sounds as surgical staples are used on the upper part of the stomach in order to create a small pouch with an outlet connecting it to the intestine.
Such a set-up not only limits what a person is capable of eating, but it also greatly diminishes what the body is capable of absorbing from the meals. [2e]
Post-Surgery Consequences on your Diet
Needless to say, bariatric surgery is bound to have certain consequences on what you can and cannot eat… so much so that you may have to make some significant changes to your lifestyle in order to adapt to this new setup.
Because you will be losing weight rapidly it will be very important to feed yourself properly so as to stay healthy.
As such, you will have to make a diet composed only of highly-nutritious foods, preferably ones with lots of protein, in addition to which you will have to drink plenty of fluids. . It is also recommended that you get acquainted with nutrition shakes to make things a bit easier.
There is no point in lying about it, there are numerous complications which can arise from undergoing bariatric surgery, both in the short and long run.
Naturally, these depend on the procedures taken, but in general they include:
- A greater risk of pneumonia due to increased weight in the chest area.
- Formation of blood clots in the legs.
- Infections in the surgical incisions.
- A poorly-placed staple in the stomach may cause fluids to start leaking, though it can be treated without surgery.
In addition to these complications, there are also some long-term ones worth taking note of (even though they happen quite rarely), such as:
- The formation of an ulcer in the small intestines after a bypass.
- A hernia can develop in incisions.
- The space between the stomach and the intestine can start to slowly become narrower.
- The body may stop absorbing certain vitamins and minerals.
- Dehydration is possible as you will no longer be able to drink large amounts of fluids.
All in all, there are indeed some complications that you should be concerned with, but remain assured that unless you are very unlucky, you won’t suffer through all of them, if any at all. What’s more, all of those problems can easily be remedied with the technology we have today. 
System Deficiencies After Surgery
Unfortunately, due to the fact that you won’t be able to absorb nearly as much food after a surgery, you will have to contend with mineral and vitamin deficiencies.
Various studies have been done on the subject and it was concluded that the main nutrient deficiencies after bariatric surgery concern protein, vitamin D, and a number of other micronutrients. . As such, maximizing your nutrition while minimizing the amount of food you eat ought to be your priority post-surgery.
Bariatric Surgery Cost
As you can guess, bariatric surgeries are far from being cheap: “The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that the typical cost can run from $20,000 to $25,000.”. [6a]
There are three basic factors which determine the price, and they include the procedure chosen, the amount your surgeon is asking for, the hospital where it will be performed, without forgetting all the additional fees (there are surgical, operating room, assistants’ fees and many others) you will have to pay.
If the surgery can indeed be life-saving, then there is a good chance your insurance will at least cover part of it, but you will have to provide them with physical assessments and such. [6b]
All things taken into consideration, though there may be some downsides to it, bariatric surgery can really be a lifesaving procedure for some people.
The reduced amount of weight, fat and food absorption tremendously helps people with cardiovascular and digestive diseases, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, renal failure, gout, gallbladder disease, and many others .
If your weight is posing a danger to your health, then it may be time to bite the bullet and choose a procedure; a little pain now can prevent a giant tragedy later.
- ^ “Bariatric Surgery.” (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved July 21st, 2013 from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bariatric_surgery.
- ^ (A B C D E) “The Current Bariatric Surgical Procedures.” (2013). Weight Loss Surgery. Retrieved from: http://www.weightlosssurgery.ca/morbid-obesity-and-weight-loss-surgery/current-bariatric-surgical-procedures/
- ^ “The Recommended Diet Following Bariatric Surgery.” (2010). DukeHealth Retrieved from: http://www.dukehealth.org/services/weight_loss_surgery/care_guides/bariatric_surgery_diet_manual/the_recommended_diet_following_bariatric_surgery
- ^ “Possible Complications of Bariatric Surgery.” (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/bariatric-surgery/complications.html
- ^ Bal, S. B., Finelli, F. C., Shope, R. T., Koch, T. R. (2012). “Nutritional Deficiencies after Bariatric Surgery.” Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 8, 544-556. Retrieved from: http://www.nature.com/nrendo/journal/v8/n9/abs/nrendo.2012.48.html
- ^ (A B) Johnson, K. (2012). “Financing Weight Loss Surgery.” Web MD, 1-3. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/diet/weight-loss-surgery/financing-weight-loss-surgery
- ^ Albgomi, B. “Bariatric Surgery: A Detailed Overview.” Bariatric Surgery Information Guide. BSIG™, 28 Nov. 2011. Web. Retrieved 22 July 2013. Retrieved from: http://www.bariatricguide.org/.