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Bariatric Surgery

Digestive SystemSometimes obesity cannot be treated by diet and exercise alone. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) says gastrointestinal surgery or bariatric surgery can be the best option for people who are severely obese and cannot lose weight by traditional means or who suffer from serious obesity-related health problems. By severely obese, NIDDK means having a body mass index of over 40, or being at least 80-100 pounds overweight. (Read about "Body Mass Index" "Obesity")

NIDDK says you may be a candidate for surgery if you have:

Surgery basically works by reducing the amount of food absorbed during the digestive process. (Read about "Digestive System") Normally, digestion starts as we chew and swallow our food, and the food moves down the esophagus to the stomach. The stomach can hold about 3 pints of food at one time. When the stomach contents move to the duodenum, the first segment of the small intestine, digestion speeds up. Most of the iron and calcium (Read about "Vitamins & Minerals" "Calcium") in the foods we eat is absorbed in the duodenum. The jejunum and ileum, the remaining two segments of the nearly 20 feet of small intestine, complete the absorption of almost all calories and nutrients. The food particles that cannot be digested in the small intestine are stored in the large intestine until eliminated. Bariatric surgery alters this process.

NIDDK says there are four types of operations that are commonly used in the United States. They are:

Each has its own benefits and risks. You need to have a frank discussion with your doctor to select the option that is best for you. Be sure to discuss the operation's benefits and risks along with many other factors, including BMI, eating behaviors, obesity-related health conditions, and previous operations.

Surgery to produce weight loss is a serious undertaking. Side effects can include nausea, dehydration and constipation. (Read about "Dehydration" "Constipation") Rapid gastric emptying or dumping syndrome is also common, especially if you do not follow your doctor's diet directions. (Read about "Rapid Gastric Emptying") Anyone thinking about surgery should understand what the operation involves. Patients and physicians should carefully consider the benefits and risks. In some procedures, minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery is an option. (Read about "Robotic Surgery") It's also important to note that success is possible only with maximum cooperation and commitment to behavioral change and lifelong medical follow-up. (Read about "Learn About Your Procedure")

All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.

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