Bariatric or ‘weight loss’ surgery reduces the ability of the body to consume large quantities of food, resulting in dramatic weight loss.
What is bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgery, or weight loss surgery, is the term for gastric banding and gastric bypass procedures. These are not quick-fix procedures but last resort operations, only performed when consistent diet, exercise and possibly weight loss medications have been tried.
When a gastric band is fitted, the size of your stomach is reduced, meaning that smaller amounts of food will make you feel full.
A gastrectomy (gastric sleeve) procedure involves removing a large part of the left side of the stomach, leaving a far thinner, sleeve-like stomach, so again you will feel full far more quickly.
A gastric bypass (‘stomach stapling’) procedure involves stapling your stomach to make it smaller, then surgically rerouting your digestive system so that it ‘bypasses’ the rest of your stomach and part of your intestine. Not only will you feel fuller more quickly, you will also digest less food due to the bypass of the section of intestine.
What are the risks of bariatric surgery?
Besides the risks of general anaesthetic and pain, swelling and bruising, bariatric surgery carries the risk of infection, internal bleeding and blood clots, either in the leg (deep vein thrombosis) or the lungs (pulmonary embolism). After surgery some patients experience nausea and vomiting when they eat, although this does usually settle down, and eating sugary foods may make some patients feel sick and faint, with abdominal pain and diarrhoea (known as ‘dumping syndrome’). There can also be problems with nutritional deficiencies due to the amount and type of food patients can eat after their procedure, and reduced absorption of nutrients.
In rare cases, patients who have had a gastric bypass may suffer from a leakage where the intestine is reattached to the stomach, or suffer a narrowing of the intestine which prevents food passing through. Gastric bands may leak or slip out of place, potentially damaging the stomach wall, and gastric sleeves may also leak from the site of the stomach join.
Rapid and extreme weight loss can sometimes cause gallstones and may also leave patients with a great deal of excess skin. These skins folds can be uncomfortable and prone to infection.
How successful is bariatric surgery? How much weight will I lose?
Results vary greatly and depend on the physical and mental health of the patient, both before and after, and their determination to follow their doctor’s advice and maintain a healthy lifestyle after their operation. It’s been estimated that on average, people who have a gastric band fitted lose around half their excess weight, while those who have a gastric bypass lose around two-thirds of their excess weight.
How much does bariatric surgery cost?
If your obesity is categorised as life-threatening, then you may be able to have bariatric surgery on the NHS. The NHS define life-threatening obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above, or having a BMI of 35 or above together with another serious health condition that could be improved by weight loss, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.
Private prices for bariatric surgery:
Gastric banding costs £5,000- £9,000.
Gastric bypass surgery costs £9,000- £15,000.
Gastric sleeve (gastrectomy) costs £9000 - £15,000