While the options of diet, exercise and dietary supplements are the common methods for most people to combat ongoing weight problems, some will consider surgical methods to attain their weight loss goals. For individuals who are seriously obese, gastric bypass surgery (GBS) can be made to seem like and easy resolution to a lifetime of weight issues. But is it safe? Let’s take a closer look at this weight-reducing option.

How does it work?
By surgically reducing the size of the stomach, the patient will be unable to eat as much and feel full faster, while the quicker passing of food to the digestive tracts reduces the amount of calories and fat absorbed by the body. The reduction of the stomach is finalized by synthetic banding of the organ, or stapling of the tissues.

What are the risks?
The risks of the gastric bypass procedure make it inadvisable for individuals who have not exhausted all other methods of weight loss, or who are not compromising their health with their current weight problems.  Many common complications arise after gastric bypass surgery and can actually result in the natural reversal of the GBS procedure.  These include deterioration of the staples or the banding system or a stretching of the remaining stomach pouch back to its original size.

More dangerous post-surgery complications involve nutritional deficiencies caused by the forced smaller appetite, which can lead to anemia and osteoporosis.  More uncommon, but still a reason to be very cautious when considering GBS, is the occurrence of stomach contents leaking from the incisions into the abdominal cavity.  When this happens, the digestive juices present in the stomach come in contact with other organs in the body and can deteriorate the tissues and result in additional health problems.  In order to combat the possible onset of future complications, GBS patients often remain under close medical supervision and/or medication for the rest of their lives.

Are there alternatives to GBS?
An advanced surgical method of weight loss, which has proven to dramatically reduce the recovery time and side effects associated with GBS, is the procedure of “LapBanding” the stomach.  This patented procedure involves creating an incision in the abdomen, where a physician wraps a portion of the stomach off with a synthetic, but adjustable, banding system.  The advantage of this system is that, unlike the GBS system, the diameter of the band can be gradually increased or decreased after surgery to insure proper nutritional intake and a less drastic form of appetite reduction.  Additional advantages include the insertion of the LapBand on an outpatient basis, and the option of LapBand removal, if desired, at a later date.

Of course, when considering any surgical form of weight loss, there are risks involved which need to be discussed in detail with your physician or healthcare provider, as well as your family.

Alternatives to surgery, including an overall lifestyle switch to healthier habits, are always preferable.   However, the advantages may outweigh the risks for the many people who are dangerously obese. Medical science has advanced dramatically in this field, and surgical weight loss methods may be the best option for certain candidates.

The best advice is to do as much research as possible before making any decision about elective surgery, and know that the process will not be an easy road to weight loss.

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