Bariatric Surgery 101: Everything You Need to Know

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    Last Updated on September 27, 2023

    Choosing to undergo bariatric surgery can be both a challenging and life transforming decision. 

    Most patients interested in weight loss surgery spend hours researching their options. They join Facebook weight loss groups, look up medical studies and carefully consider which surgeon is right for them. 

    If you’re looking to understand more about bariatric surgery, the different types of weight loss surgery and the risks and benefits of each – this article is for you.

    While results vary for each patient, it’s possible to lose close to 50-75% of excess weight within 12-18 months of sleeve surgery.

    Weight loss surgery has become an increasingly popular option for individuals struggling with obesity and related health issues. 

    It can provide a successful solution for those who have tried traditional weight loss methods such as diet and exercise, but haven’t seen the results they’re looking for. 

    Not only does weight loss surgery help patients lose weight, but it can also improve a range of health conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and more. 

    With the significant impact it can have on overall health and quality of life, it’s no surprise that weight loss surgery is rising in popularity.

    In this article, learn about:

    • The various types of weight loss surgery
    • The benefits and drawbacks of each
    • How to choose a weight loss surgeon, and
    • Other important considerations for patients considering this life-changing procedure.

    What is Bariatric Surgery?

    Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, refers to a range of surgical procedures designed to help individuals struggling with obesity or weight related health issues achieve significant and sustained weight loss. 

    These procedures work by reducing the size of the stomach, altering the way food is digested, or a combination of both. 

    The aim of weight loss surgery is to help individuals achieve a healthier weight, reduce the risk of obesity-related health complications, and improve their overall quality of life. 

    Bariatric surgery stands out as the most effective treatment for obesity, providing successful weight loss, alleviation of comorbidities and enhanced quality of life. 

    Weight loss surgery has been found to reduce the risk of premature death and extend life. 

    Below are nine conditions that can be completely cured or dramatically improved by bariatric surgery:

    1. High blood pressure
    2. Type 2 diabetes 
    3. High cholesterol
    4. Cardiovascular disease
    5. Joint pain
    6. Infertility
    7. Obstructive sleep apnea
    8. Osteoarthritis
    9. Urinary stress incontinence


    Who is Bariatric Surgery For?

    When it comes to who is eligible for weight loss surgery there is a common misconception that only those who are on the highest end of the weight spectrum – upwards of 600-700 pounds – are eligible.

    In reality, one in four people walking down the street are eligible for weight loss surgery.

    Weight loss surgery is typically recommended for individuals who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or a BMI of 35 or higher with one or more obesity-related health conditions (including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, joint pain, fatty liver, or even a significant impairment to quality of life).

    However, there is a push to lower the criteria so that those with a lower BMI, who are significantly impacted by their weight, are eligible for weight loss surgery. Right now, many private clinics like The Sleeve Clinic perform low BMI weight loss surgery (BMI of 30 and above) with tremendous success.

    It may also be an option for individuals who have tried other weight loss methods without success.

    Common motivations for bariatric surgery include:

      • Life has become harder. Energy levels are lower and daily tasks like climbing stairs and tying shoes are difficult. 
      • Worry and fear about medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or infertility. 
      • The desire to play, have fun and travel. Patients want to be able to play on the floor with their kids, hop on a plane, and enjoy hiking or beach adventures.  

      Looking to learn more about who has bariatric surgery and what the experience is like? Watch Maria’s story:

    Maria’s Bariatric Surgery Results and How She Lost 64 lbs with The Sleeve Clinic


    Are you eligible for weight loss surgery?

    Instantly check your qualification to find out if you’re eligible for gastric sleeve surgery through The Sleeve Clinic’s quick online quiz: Check Now.

    3 Primary Types of Weight Loss Surgery

    If you’re considering bariatric surgery, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the differences between each type, including the long-term lifestyle benefits and requirements that come with each. 

    There are three primary types of weight loss surgeries available, each with its own benefits and risks. 

    1. Gastric sleeve surgery, also known as sleeve gastrectomy, involves removing a large portion of the stomach to create a smaller, sleeve-shaped stomach. This restricts the amount of food that can be consumed, leading to weight loss. 
    2. Gastric bypass surgery involves creating a small stomach pouch and rerouting the small intestine to this pouch, which reduces the absorption of calories and nutrients. 
    3. Gastric banding involves placing a band around the upper portion of the stomach, which restricts the amount of food that can be eaten. 

    Each of these surgeries has its own unique benefits and considerations, and a qualified bariatric surgeon can help patients decide which option is best for their individual needs.

    Also read: The Ultimate Guide to Optifast for Sleeve Surgery


    The Pros and Cons of Each Type of Weight Loss Surgery


    Gastric Sleeve Surgery: Pros and Cons

    Pros Cons
    High success rates in weight loss Surgical risks, including bleeding, infection, and leaks
    Reduced hunger and increased satiety May require additional procedures for optimal weight loss
    Rapid weight loss
    No future surgical adjustments required, unlike gastric banding
    Fewer food restrictions compared to gastric bypass
    Improved or resolved obesity-related health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes


    Gastric Bypass Surgery: Pros and Cons

    Pros Cons
    High success rates in weight loss Surgical risks, including bleeding, infection, and leaks
    Rapid weight loss Requires lifestyle and dietary changes
    Reduced hunger and increased satiety Malabsorption of nutrients and vitamins, leading to nutrient deficiencies
    Improved or resolved obesity-related health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes
    Lower risk of weight regain compared to gastric banding


    Gastric Banding Surgery: Pros and Cons

    Pros Cons
    Least invasive form of weight loss surgery Risk of band slippage or erosion, requiring additional surgery
    Lower surgical risks compared to other weight loss surgeries
    Adjustable and reversible procedure Can result in less weight loss compared to other surgeries
    Fewer food restrictions compared to other surgeries Potential for band-related complications, such as nausea, vomiting, and acid reflux
    Lower risk of nutrient deficiencies

    Disclaimer: These tables provide general pros and cons for each type of weight loss surgery. Each patient’s experience may vary. It’s important to discuss the risks, benefits, and expected outcomes of each procedure with a qualified bariatric surgeon.

    Also read: Pros and Cons of Weight Loss Surgery: A Comprehensive Guide


    How Successful is Weight Loss Surgery?

    Weight loss surgery stands out as the most effective long-term solution for sustainable weight loss. It’s not just a procedure, it’s a proven path to a healthier life. 

    In fact, one of the number one sentiments most patients express after sleeve surgery is “why didn’t I do this sooner?”

    On average, patients can lose approximately 50-75% of their excess weight within 12-18 months of sleeve surgery. Said another way, that’s 25-35% of your total body weight. For example, if you weigh 250lbs, you can expect to lose 62.5-87.5lbs. 

    If you’re curious to see how much you could expect to lose as a percentage of your excess weight, try The Sleeve Clinic’s Weight Loss Calculator:

    Calculate Your Gastric Sleeve Weight Loss Now

    Non-Scale Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery

    Studies have shown that bariatric surgery can lead to remission or improvement of many obesity-related comorbidities such as diabetes, and the mental health of patients has been shown to improve in many cases. 

    Studies have reported improvements in depression, anxiety and overall psychological wellbeing after surgery. While some mood disorders can persist after surgery, a proper preoperative psychiatric assessment and postoperative psychological support can enhance psychological well-being following bariatric surgery.

    Many patients report enjoyment of activities they previously couldn’t participate in such as plane travel, playing on the floor with their kids, scuba diving, hiking and even running marathons.  

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    Bariatric Surgeon: Choosing the Best Weight Loss Surgeon

    The success of weight loss surgery depends heavily on the skill and expertise of the bariatric surgeon performing the procedure. 

    Bariatric surgeons are specially trained medical professionals who have completed extensive education and clinical training in the field of weight loss surgery. They possess the knowledge and expertise required to assess a patient’s unique needs and recommend the best surgical approach for their weight loss goals. 

    Bariatric surgeons also provide preoperative counselling and postoperative support to ensure that their patients achieve and maintain long-term weight loss success. 

    However, not all bariatric surgeons are the same and not all bariatric clinics offer the same level of patient care. 

    The Sleeve Clinic is run and led by Dr. Scott Gmora, one of the highest-rated bariatric surgeons in Ontario. He is a double Board-Certified Surgeon with over 12 years of experience performing thousands of advanced bariatric cases including sleeve, gastrectomy, gastric bypass, duodenal switch and complex revisional procedures. The Sleeve Clinic is known for its unparalleled five-year aftercare program, warm patient-centered care and the fact that Dr. Gmora has had a gastric sleeve himself. 

    Also read: Weight Loss Surgery in Toronto: Choosing the Right Clinic for Lasting Results

    Weight Loss Surgery Commonly Asked Questions

    What is the best surgery for weight loss?

    While the “best” surgery for weight loss varies based on individual needs and goals, gastric sleeve surgery has become increasingly popular due to its effectiveness and low complication rates. This procedure involves removing a portion of the stomach to create a smaller “sleeve” shape, which leads to reduced hunger and fewer calories consumed.

    What is the safest form of weight loss surgery?

    All weight loss surgeries come with risks, but gastric sleeve surgery and gastric banding are generally considered safer than gastric bypass due to the lower risk of complications.

    What is the weight limit for weight loss surgery?

    There is no set weight limit for weight loss surgery, but candidates typically have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. For candidates with a low BMI, they may also need to present with obesity-related health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure, to qualify for surgery. It’s worth speaking directly with an experienced surgeon to find out if you qualify. 

    How can I shrink my stomach without surgery?

    There is no way to physically reduce the size of your stomach without weight loss surgery. The idea of “shrinking” your stomach might relate to the desire to eat less and control hunger. While certain habits may promote feelings of fullness or momentarily suppress appetite, they don’t address the root cause. Weight loss surgery like the sleeve gastrectomy, directly targets and reduces the production of ghrelin, providing a substantial decrease in hunger levels making sustainable weight loss more achievable. 

    What is the most painless weight loss surgery?

    Pain is subjective and can vary from person to person, but gastric banding is generally considered to be less painful than other weight loss surgeries. However, it’s important to remember that all surgeries come with some level of discomfort during recovery. At The Sleeve Clinic most patients report surprisingly minimal pain after surgery – less than a c-section. Most patients only complain of bloating which lasts 24 hours. 

    What are the negatives about bariatric surgery?

    The potential negatives of bariatric surgery are none-to-incredibly-minimal, especially when you compare them to the profound health and lifestyle risks posed by obesity. Weight loss surgery is exceptionally safe, whereas in contrast, obesity brings severe health threats like heart disease and diabetes. Obesity can also severely impact quality of life, mobility and mental well-being. Given this perspective, any potential negatives of bariatric surgery are dwarfed by the health and quality-of-life benefits it offers. 

    What is the life expectancy after bariatric surgery?

    Studies have shown that weight loss surgery can lead to improved life expectancy, with a reduction in obesity-related health complications such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Those without diabetes, live on average 5.1 years longer with bariatric surgery. If you have type 2 diabetes, you live on average 9.3 years longer. 

    What is the regret rate for bariatric surgery?

    The regret rate for bariatric surgery is quite surprising as the vast majority of patients often express their only regret is not undergoing the procedure sooner. While some might experience brief moments of doubt during post-surgery weight loss plateaus, these feelings are quickly alleviated with the guidance of a comprehensive and supportive aftercare program. 

    Who is not suitable for bariatric surgery?

    Luckily many patients qualify for bariatric surgery. The only absolute contraindications are: active, untreated severe psychiatric conditions, active alcohol or drug addictions and active anorexia or bulimia. It’s worth it to speak with an expert bariatric surgeon to see if you might qualify for weight loss surgery.

    In Conclusion: Deciding if Weight Loss Surgery is Right for You

    Gastric sleeve surgery and gastric bypass are effective options for weight loss surgery. 

    Deciding to undergo weight loss surgery and choosing the right procedure, surgeon and clinic is an important and personal decision. 

    It’s important to speak with a bariatric surgeon to determine which surgery is right for you based on your individual needs and health history.

    If you’re considering weight loss surgery, below are some next steps you can take:

    Please note that the information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified healthcare professional for personalized guidance regarding weight loss surgery. If you are considering sleeve surgery you can book a consultation with our clinic here: Contact us

    See also  8 Gastric Sleeve Surgery Myths You May Need To Know in 2024

    Hear it From Others


    As one of the leading weight loss surgeons in Canada, Dr Gmora has gained a reputation for being a master of his surgical craft and producing outstanding weight loss results.