Obesity Surgery


Obesity surgery which is also known as bariatric surgery in medical parlance, is a medical procedure involving the performance of surgical operation on obese people. The aim of obesity surgery is to achieve significant weight loss. Obesity has long been associated with some life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension.

Types of Bariatric Procedures

There are many kinds of procedures carried out during obesity surgery but all these may be classified into three types namely: malabsorptive procedures, restrictive procedures, and mixed procedures. Most medical procedures to effect weight loss in obese people are based on the fact that two of the leading causes of obesity are genetic factors which predispose certain people to gain weight and overeating. Malabsorptive procedures are carried out with the aim of reducing the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. This is done by changing the structure of the alimentary canal so that food bypasses some sections of it. Malabsorptive procedures are most times carried out in conjunction with restrictive procedures. The only bariatric procedure that is purely malabsorptive is Bilopancreatic diversion. Restrictive procedures are carried out with the aim of reducing the capacity of the stomach to hold food. Two major restrictive procedures are sleeve gastrectomy surgery and gastric band surgery. Examples of mixed procedures are the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery and duodenal switch surgery.

Who needs Obesity Surgery?

Generally speaking, those who are obese need bariatric or obesity surgery. However, the exact meaning of being obese is related to the measure of human weight as a ratio of body height. So, the most commonly adopted scientific measure to determine if someone needs obesity surgery is the Body Mass Index (BMI). The Body Mass Index is a measure of the ratio of a person’s weight in kilogrammes divided by the square of his height in meters. This measure has some limitations because it does not distinguish fat mass from lean mass. However, it is generally accepted that a person with a body mass index of 30 or more is obese and may require obesity surgery.

How effective is Obesity Surgery?

Generally, malabsorptive procedures lead to more weight loss than restrictive procedures but these procedures carry more risks. Studies have shown that bariatric procedures have beneficial effects on obese people that suffer from diabetes, abnormal body metabolism and sleep disorders. However, its effects on hypertension are as yet unclear.

What are the Adverse Effects of Obesity Surgery?

Weight loss surgery has been associated with certain adverse side effects. These effects include leaks at the surgical site, stomach bloating, diarrhoea, pneumonia and even hernia at the point of incision.