Also referred to as 'bariatric surgery' (from the ancient Greek word for weight), weight loss surgery is an option for people who have a BMI (Body Mass Index) greater than 40 and also for those who may be below this indicator (where BMI is greater than 35) but that nonetheless have other serious conditions where weight loss would significantly improve their outlook or quality of life.
Surgery is only recommended when all other non-surgical treatments have failed to help the patient. Weight loss surgery - of any type - generally results in the loss of about 60% of excess body weight within a 1-2 year timeframe.
Exactly how much weight a patient will lose is determined by a number of factors, including age, weight prior to surgery, any pre-existing health conditions and diet post surgery. A major factor in the success of weight loss surgery is the motivation of the patient and the moral support of family and friends.
In general terms, weight loss surgical procedures fall into one of two types...
Restrictive surgery, as the name implies, restrict the amount of food that can be held within the stomach, reducing the appetite significantly after only small quantities of food are eaten. Restrictive procedures include gastric sleeve surgery (sleeve gastrectomy) and lap band surgery.
Procedures based on malabsorption are those that prevent the gastrointestinal tract from absorbing some of the nutrients from ingested food, by removing or rearranging a section or sections of the digestive tract.
Many of these procedures are no longer in use, since both gastric sleeve surgery and lap band surgery have proved so effective. The only remaining common procedure which can be classified as partially malabsorptive is gastric bypass surgery. Gastric bypass is also restrictive surgery, so is classified as a 'mixed procedure'.
Which weight loss procedure is likely to be the most effective for an individual is entirely dependent on their circumstances and our surgeons are able to explain the relative advantages and disadvantages of each approach to all patients.
Read more on the commonest weight loss procedures: