Bariatric, or weight loss, surgery has grown exponentially in in past 20 years as the problem of obesity has become more pronounced and technical advances have made surgical treatment safer. Today almost 50% of adults are overweight and about 6% are morbidly obese, which is usually defined as more than 100 lbs. overweight. If you are wondering if you fall into this category, a simple test is to calculate your body mass index by following the simple directions at the following link to the Medical College of Wisconsin. If you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30, then you are considered to be medically obese.
Bariatric Surgery is not for just anyone who is overweight, but it is reserved as the last resort for those who are obese enough to be having medical problems and have failed other weight loss methods. There are two basic surgical techniques for weight loss: gastric restriction and gastric bypass.
Gastric restriction includes any surgery which reduces the size of the stomach. The traditional procedure was the vertical band gastroplasty in which a metal band was placed across the stomach to reduce its' size and cause patients to feel full with less food. This technique was updated with an adjustable band that can be placed by laparoscopy through a small incision.
Gastric bypass procedures rearrange the connections between the stomach and small intestine so the food is digested farther down along the intestinal pathway. The result is that less food is absorbed, creating a type of controlled malabsorption so that fewer calories are absorbed.
Each of these two types of procedures have their pros and cons, and the right choice for each patient can only be made through a consultation with a bariatric surgeon; be sure to choose one that is part of a certified Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence.
Anyone who has bariatric surgery will be left with large amounts of loose skin after the weight loss process is complete, and virtually every one of them will at least consider plastic surgery. As plastic surgeons, we are the ones who are trained in the art of body contouring surgery. The most common procedure after massive weight loss is a Tummy Tuck. Other procedures to remove excess skin include Breast Lift, thigh lift, arm lift and total body lift. Going from severe obesity to a body shape that is satisfying is a journey, and plastic surgery is the final road and an integral part of that journey back to good health and a positive self image.