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Is bariatric surgery right for you?

  • Candidates for bariatric surgery typically have a BMI over 40, or over 35 with a serious health condition, offering an effective solution for significant weight loss and health improvement.
  • Common procedures like Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy and duodenal switch vary in approach but generally reduce stomach size or alter digestion to aid in weight loss.
  • While effective in reducing weight and improving related health conditions, bariatric surgery requires a commitment to lifelong healthy eating and lifestyle changes, alongside consideration of potential risks.

When you’re overweight you battle more than just your weight. Stigma, stereotypes and misconceptions abound. Why you carry extra weight can be complex. While strides have been made in obesity research, we still have much to learn about its causes, treatments and long-term management.

The truth is that obesity is a disease just like diabetes or heart disease. And, like these other diseases, it is best treated with by a combination of lifestyle modifications, medications and surgery.

Allina Health Weight Management will partner with you to offer a safe, medically supervised weight-loss program that’s uniquely suited to you and your wellness goals. Call today to talk to a weight management specialist, 763-236-0940.

What are the requirements for bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery is one of the most effective treatments for obesity. It can help you lose a significant amount of weight, improve other medical conditions and help you keep the extra pounds off long-term.

A misconception about weight loss surgery is that you must be extremely obese to qualify. The truth is you don’t need to look like the people on the TV show “My 600 Pound Life.” The first step is to find your body mass index or BMI. If you have a BMI over 40, or over 35 with at least one serious health condition, you may be someone who is a good candidate for weight loss surgery.

What are the differences between weight loss surgery?

While there are different types of weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery), most types limit the amount of food you can eat by reducing the size of your stomach or changing the digestion process. Most types of bariatric surgery use laparoscopic surgery, which means less pain, a smaller incision, a smaller scar, a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery and fewer complications. You should expect to be in the hospital for 1 to 2 days and be back to your normal activities in about 1 to 2 weeks. Weight loss may continue for up to several years.

Read on for more information on the different types of bariatric surgery:

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass 

In Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery a small pouch is created to bypass most of your stomach and small intestine. This reduces the amount of food and liquid your stomach can hold to just 1 to 2 tablespoons of food at a time. As your stomach fills, your brain gets a signal that you feel “satisfied” and should stop eating.

Sleeve gastrectomy

In a sleeve gastrectomy, your stomach is stapled, divided and about 80 percent of your stomach is removed. Your new stomach will hold a few tablespoons of food at first. As with Roux-en-Y gastric bypass your brain gets a signal that you feel “satisfied” and should stop eating.

Duodenal switch

Duodenal switch surgery combines sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass surgery (Roux-en-Y). It changes the amount of food you can eat and your ability to absorb calories. Weight loss is rapid.

Risks of weight loss surgery

While bariatric surgery is an effective weight loss method, it is major surgery. Some short- and long-term side effects and complications, while rare, include:

  • nutritional deficiencies
  • acid reflux
  • alcohol sensitivity
  • bowel obstruction
  • gallstones
  • nausea, sweats and severe diarrhea
  • stomach ulcers and stomach perforation.

Benefits of weight loss surgery

Losing a lot of weight can make you feel better, move better and improve your energy. It can also help improve many other health problems such as:

  • arthritis
  • back and joint pain
  • headaches
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • infertility
  • polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • sleep apnea
  • type 2 diabetes

Insurance coverage for weight loss surgery

Many commercial insurance companies offer coverage for some types of bariatric surgery, if you meet their requirements. What your insurance plan considers a serious health condition may vary, but in general includes Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, lipid abnormalities or heart disease.

If you feel you are a candidate for weight loss surgery, check your BMI, then call your insurance company to check to see what they will cover.

Just as in non-surgical treatments for obesity, a commitment to lifelong healthy eating and following healthy behaviors including regular exercise, is a cornerstone to success. Allina Health Weight Management can walk you through your steps to successful weight loss.



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