The different types of weight loss surgery, the risks, and if they could be right for you

Some people struggle for years to lose weight through diet and exercise, but are unsuccessful. It can therefore be tempting to think about other options.

Weight loss surgery is one method than can help you lose a lot of pounds. But it’s important to know the risks associated with this surgery before moving forward with it.

There are several different types of weight loss procedures offered by the NHS, all of which have side-effects associated with them. What are the different types of weight loss surgery and are any of them right for you? You can get more health news and other story updates by subscribing to our newsletters here.

Read more: Do I have a good relationship with food? Warning signs and when to seek help.

Types of weight loss surgery

gastric band

This is a small band that is placed around the top of the stomach. It works by creating a small pouch at the top of the stomach, meaning it takes less food to feel full. The band can be tightened after surgery. Read here about 12 easy ways to shed those pounds.

gastric bypass

This is where surgical staples are used to create a small pouch at the top of the stomach. This pouch is connected to your small intestine, missing out the rest of your stomach. It takes less food for you to feel full and you absorb less calories.

Sleeve gastrectomy

This is where a large part of the stomach is removed. The stomach is much smaller than before the surgery so you will feel full sooner. We reported on one man who ‘broke down crying’ when he looked in the mirror, but he’s now unrecognizable from the days when he once weighed 22 stone.

gastric-balloon

This is a soft balloon filled with air or salt water that is placed into your stomach using a tube passed down your throat. This is a temporary measure and it is usually removed after about six months.

Risks of weight loss surgery

Weight loss surgery is major surgery usually performed under general anesthetic. There are a number of risks for the surgery itself and the recovery period. These include:

  • Blood clots – usually in the legs
  • Wound infection – this can happen as your surgical wounds are healing
  • Gastric band slipping out of place – you would need further surgery to put this back in place
  • Leak in the gut – this can cause a serious infection
  • Blocked gut – this could lead to further complications and the need for medical intervention
  • Malnutrition – weight loss surgery can make it harder for your gut to absorb vitamins and minerals from food
  • Gallstones – this is really common after weight loss surgery and you may need surgery to remove you gallbladder
  • Excess skin – you could be left with excess skin after the weight loss
  • Death – risk of death is low, but the surgery is a major operation and comes with the risk of serious complications

Is weight loss surgery right for me?

If you think that gastric surgery is right for you, you should contact your GP who can offer advice and refer you to a specialist consultant. Before you can have weight loss surgery, a specialist will check if the operation is suitable. This may involve checking your:

  • physical health – using blood tests, X-rays and scans
  • diet and eating patterns
  • mental health – asking about your expectations of surgery, and whether you have any mental health conditions

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