Time to lose (more than) a few pounds? The reality of Weight Loss Surgery

Posted on January 5, 2018 by kerri

With January being the time of resolutions (often for better health!), it’s also the time of year that people may have keeping the extra pounds off—or taking them off—at front of mind. For some people, this can be achieved with managing what you eat, and exercising regularly. For others, though, it can be more difficult, complicated by other health factors.

person holding out too large jeans with overlay of scale.

If you have a lot of weight to lose, you may consider having weight loss surgery—the collective term for a few different procedures that induce weight loss, also known as bariatric surgery. These surgeries typically shrink the size of your stomach, causing you to become full faster while eating, and enable you to eat less and lose weight. Sometimes instead the short intestine will be shortened so that less nutrients/calories can be absorbed by the body. [1] Lifestyle changes are necessary with weight loss surgery, so it is in no way the “easy way out”, but can be iife changing—and life saving—for those with significant weight to lose that have not had success with diet and exercise changes alone.

Types of Weight Loss Surgery

Gastric Bypass (Roux-en-Y) reduces the size of the stomach by creating a small “pouch” at the top for food, limiting the amount that can be eaten before feeling full. The small intestine is then reconnected to the “pouch” farther down in the intestinal length so less nutrients/calories can be absorbed. [1]

Lap-band (Laparoscopic gastric banding) restricts the size of the stomach by placing a band with an inflatable “balloon” at the top of the stomach—food enters this top pouch created by the balloon/band, and slowly enters the rest of the stomach via a narrow opening. This means a person feels full sooner but still absorbs all calories/nutrients consumed. The balloon can be adjusted to increase or decrease the amount a person can eat. [1]

Gastric “sleeve” surgery, like the lap-band, does not alter the amount of calories/nutrients that can be absorbed, but it does physically remove part of the stomach so that it cannot hold as much food. Because there is a smaller portion of the stomach present, less of a hormone that makes you hungry called ghrelin is produced, and the desire to eat may be reduced. [1.1]

Biliopancreatic diversion and duodenal switch – Yeah, that’s a mouthful! This procedure starts with the “sleeve” surgery as above, but goes a step further—the middle section of the small intestine is closed off, and the first section (the duodenum) is reattached to the last part of the small intestine, shortening its length and reducing ability to absorb calories/nutrients, similarly to Gastric Bypass Surgery. However, unlike Gastric Bypass, the separated section is reattached to the end of the intestine so that liquids important to digestion like bile and pancreatic digestive juices are reintroduced  [1.1] Confused? Me, too. Here’s a video of how it works.

Changes after Weight Loss Surgery

The changes you need to make after weight loss surgery may vary depending on the type of surgery you have. A dietitian and your doctor will give you specific instructions for how to reintroduce food after surgery, including a liquid only diet, soft or pureed foods, and moving up to regular food gradually. Taking vitamins and minerals that may not be as readily absorbed will be a lifelong requirement following surgery. [2]

Often, increased fluid intake is mandatory to prevent illness, and sometimes, there will be restriction on your ability to eat and drink at the same time. [3]

Once a person has “graduated” to solid foods, smaller amounts will be required, and a focus on protein is important. [2] Eating smaller servings/meals may be necessary to avoid problems, and snacking may discouraged—this can be a big adjustment. [3]

Despite having weight loss surgery, exercise is still a big part of losing weight, and is necessary to stay healthy. [2] Exercise routines will vary for each person based on their health, time since surgery, and fitness level.

Medical ID Jewelry for Weight Loss Surgery

Sometimes, after weight loss surgery, people experience hypoglycemia—low blood sugar from absorbing nutrients differently. For this reason a hypoglycemia medical ID bracelet is necessary. Often, NSAID pain medicines may need to be avoided after weight loss surgery [4], which could be administered in an emergency. As well, after gastric bypass, a nasogastral tube (type of feeding tube) should not be inserted without guidance of medical imaging, so wearing a “NO BLIND NG-TUBE” medical bracelet for weight loss surgery may be important as well.

Other medical conditions such as diabetes should be on your medical ID bracelet or necklace as well.

As a person who undergoes WLS will be losing weight quickly, a simple chain bracelet may be the best option, allowing you to adjust the size of the bracelet as your wrist becomes smaller. Check out our options for weight loss surgery bracelets here.

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