Congratulations, you've taken the first big step toward a healthier (and slimmer) you! But that's where the questions seem to begin. Dieting and exercising alone, for one reason or another, don't quite seem to be your perfectly-fit glass slipper (don't get too excited though, bariatric surgery doesn't mean you're off the hook for dieting and exercising!) Staring at the veritable menu of bariatric surgeries can be daunting; I know it was for me. So to help you along in your decision-making as to which weight-loss surgery is right for you, I'm sharing with you the cheat sheets that I used before making my final decision on which surgery was the right one for me.
Name of surgery: Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass
Medical criteria: BMI of 40 or more where diet, exercise and medicine have been unsuccessful (occasionally 35 or more with medical ailments such as Diabetes Type 2); Extensive screening process that will evaluate your psychological status (depression, sexual abuse, eating disorders, etc.) which will not disqualify you from your bariatric surgery, but it may postpone it. Remember, they are setting you up for success, so they will want to address any underlying demons that may interfere with your healthy lifestyle after your surgery. They also will review your medical history looking for risk factors that could make surgery unsafe for you (such as blood clots, heart conditions, liver disease) and have you undergo a physical exam and lab work.
Be aware that after you have been approved for gastric bypass, you will need to make certain lifestyle changes before your surgery. This may include losing weight, diet and fluid restriction, smoking cessation, counseling to prepare you for your post-surgery life and perhaps beginning an exercise regimen.
How it works: Decreases the size of the stomach, most commonly by dividing and stapling-off the upper part of the stomach which then becomes the "new" stomach -- or as it is commonly called the "pouch." The lower part of the stomach remains but no longer receives food or absorbs nutrients. Also bypasses part of the intestine, which will be attached to the new stomach. The result is you feel full faster and absorb fewer calories.
Cost: $18,000-$35,000. Check with your insurance company as some will cover part or all of the surgery if your doctor determines it is medically necessary or you meet the National Institute of Health requirement for gastric bypass surgery insurance.
Recuperation time: Typically 4-6 weeks, although you may not be back to eating solid foods until 3 months post surgery. Overeating will cause your stomach to stretch, negating the surgery to reduce its size.
Average weight loss: 60% of the excess weight. Remember, while you will more than likely see dramatic weight loss in your first year post-surgery, gastric bypass is intended to produce long-term weight loss over a period of years with the proper diet and exercise.
Long-term success rate: The Annals of Surgery defined success as achieving and maintaining a normal BMI for 5.5 years. For the morbidly obese (BMI 30-49), the success rate was 93%; for super obese (BMI 50+), 57%. Keep up your diet and exercise regimen life-long, though, because after 10 years patients regain an average of 20-25% of their weight!
Related article: How Safe is Gastric Bypass Surgery
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You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.
Published On: December 08, 2011