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Everything you wanted to know about bariatric surgery

Dr. Muffi    30/5/2018   |   Wednesday

Even as a surgeon, I believe that weight-loss surgery should be the last resort. It is first important to make lifestyle changes, and give the body a chance to stabilize with the right diet and wellness practices. Bariatric surgery can be life-saving, and is not to be confused with liposuction or tummy tucks, which are cosmetic, body-sculpting procedures. The three get mixed up in conversations, and I would like to make it clear that they are not interchangeable terms.

Weight-loss or bariatric surgery is a life-saving option for people who are morbidly obese and promotes weight loss by changing the gastro-intestinal anatomy by the method of surgery. Looking good after bariatric surgery may be considered a beneficial side effect. Liposuction and tummy tuck are not primary weight-loss procedures and are mainly done for body sculpting. The maximum weight loss achieved safely after a liposuction is around 6 to 8 kg. On the other hand, patients tend to lose anywhere between 20 to 100 kg, depending on their starting weight, after bariatric surgery. Plus, it also leads to remission of associated co-morbidities especially type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, PCOD, heart disease, acid reflux, infertility and many more.

The impact of weight-loss surgery is also long term because the pattern of eating changes, and with the right lifestyle changes, patients’ lives can change. At the Digestive Health Institute, which I head, my team and I insist on leading our patients through a long-term, comprehensive journey before and after surgery, which makes sure that their lives change for the better, for good. To start off, though, these are common questions we get about bariatric surgery, which I’ve addressed here.

At what BMI does one qualify for bariatric surgery in India?

Bariatric surgery is recommended for those who are obese, or morbidly obese with a BMI of 27.5-32.5, or 32.5-37.5.

What about scars and pain?

At Digestive Health Institute, we are the pioneers of Single Incision Laparoscopic Surgery – which means the entire weight-loss surgery is done in one cut. This leads to less pain, faster recoveries and no scars.

Is there an age limit for getting bariatric surgery done?

Bariatric surgery can be safely performed in adolescents as young as 15 years but surgery must be performed only for patients who have achieved the optimum bone growth. There is no upper limit of age for patients undergoing bariatric surgery.

Can a patient with uncontrolled diabetes undergo weight loss surgery?

More than 50% of morbidly obese patients who undergo bariatric surgery suffer from type 2 diabetes. In most patients, blood sugar levels improve during the seven-day pre-operative low calorie liquid diet. However it is recommended to visit your diabetologist/endocrinologist for pre-operative blood sugar control.

After bariatric surgery, number of drugs and insulin use goes down considerably. It is seen in our results that most patients do not need to take antidiabetic medications beyond 3 to 6 months post their weight loss surgery.

Can one conceive after bariatric surgery?

Weight loss improves the chances of conception in morbidly obese patients. However it is advisable to wait for a year after undergoing bariatric surgery.

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