What are my Weight Loss Options?

For anyone who has considered a weight loss program, there is certainly no shortage of choices. In fact, to qualify for insurance coverage of weight loss surgery, many insurers require patients to have a history of medically supervised weight loss efforts.

Weight Loss Surgery Options

The American Society for Bariatric Surgery describes two basic approaches that weight loss surgery takes to achieve change:

  • Restrictive procedures that decrease food intake.
  • Malabsorptive procedures that alter digestion, thus causing the food to be poorly digested and incompletely absorbed so that it is eliminated in the stool.

Which Procedure is Right for You?

Gastric bypass
Sleeve gastrectomy

The most important step in weight loss surgery is getting all of the information you need about the various surgical options. Ultimately your surgeon and other physicians are your best resource for information about the procedure they will recommend to you. When you ask a question, make sure you understand the answer. Do not hesitate to ask for a clearer explanation given in simpler language. The decision to have a weight loss surgical procedure may take several visits to their office and consultation with more than one doctor. Ask your doctor for names of other patients who have had similar procedures and who are willing to discuss their experiences, good and bad, with you.

You may choose to research weight loss surgery on your own via the Internet or through your local library. As with any search for medical information, be sure that your sources are responsible recognized experts in the field you are investigating. An excellent resource for weight loss surgery is the American Society for Bariatric Surgery.

Although the results of weight loss surgery can be drastic, there are potential risks and complications. Before making your decision, you should be well informed. These steps are necessary if you are to give what is called "informed consent" for the procedure. Informed consent is a legal term meaning that a patient agrees that they have received and understood enough information about a procedure's benefits and risks to allow them to make a decision that is right for them. Your surgeon will require you to sign a consent form before performing your procedure. Before you sign a consent form, you should have a solid understanding of what is about to take place. You should know what you would need to do to live well after the operation. And you should be aware of the signs or symptoms of complications to look for which may occur after your surgery.

Most non-surgical weight loss programs are based on some combination of diet/behavior modification and regular exercise. Unfortunately, even the most effective interventions have proven to be effective for only a small percentage of patients. It is estimated that less than 5% of individuals who participate in non-surgical weight loss programs will lose a significant amount of weight and maintain that loss for a long period of time.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 90% of all people in these programs regain their weight within one year. Sustained weight loss for patients who are morbidly obese is even harder to achieve. Serious health risks have been identified for people who move from diet to diet, subjecting their bodies to a severe and continuing cycle of weight loss and gain known as "yo-yo dieting."

The fact remains that morbid obesity is a complex, multifactorial chronic disease.

For many patients, the risk of death from not having the surgery is greater than the risks from the possible complications of having the procedure.

Patients who have had the procedure and are benefiting from its results report improvements in their quality of life, social interactions, psychological well-being, employment opportunities and economic condition.

In clinical studies, candidates for the procedure who had multiple obesity-related health conditions questioned whether they could safely have the surgery. These studies show that selection of surgical candidates is based on very strict criteria and surgery is an option for the majority of patients.

  • Sleeve Gastrectomy
  • Diet and Behavior Modification
  • Exercise
  • Over-the-Counter and Prescription Drugs
  • Laparoscopic or Minimally Invasive Surgery