Obesity rates in the UK are at an all-time high with the condition estimated to be the fourth largest cause of death in England, according to the NHS Atlas of Risk. Obesity is a major cause of serious chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, leading people to undergo weight loss surgery to improve their overall health and quality of life.
Doctors will encourage patients to pursue traditional weight loss methods such as exercise and dieting before suggesting bariatric surgery. It is important to remember that while weight loss surgery can change your shape physically, it cannot bypass your previously learnt behaviours. Consultation with a psychiatrist or therapist may be essential in reshaping your relationship with food for longer-term results.
Am I suitable?
If undergoing weight loss surgery on the NHS, you must have a BMI of 40 or above, or a BMI between 35 and 40 plus an obesity-related condition that would improve if you lost weight.
Common types of weight loss surgery
Gastric band: A band is secured around the stomach to reduce portion intake and overall hunger.
Gastric bypass: The top of the stomach is surgically stapled to the lower intestines so that less calories are absorbed and you will feel full sooner.
Sleeve gastrectomy: A large part of the stomach is removed so that you can’t physically eat as much as you could before surgery.
All of these methods are proven to significantly reduce weight, but they are not a cure for obesity. Any surgery must be coupled with permanent lifestyle changes to avoid putting weight back on. After these procedures, patients will be required to commit to regular follow-up appointments with their doctor.
What are the risks?
- If you undergo a gastric band procedure, there is a chance of the band slipping out of place or your gut becoming blocked or narrowed.
- You may find that after surgery you are not getting enough vitamins and minerals from food; you may need to take supplements for the rest of your life.
- You may be at risk of blood clots in the lungs or legs.
- With extreme and fast weight loss comes the risk of being left with excess folds of skin, which you may want to remove with further surgery.
Source: NHS Choices
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