Severe obesity is a chronic condition that is very difficult to treat. For some people, weight loss surgery — or bariatric surgery — helps by restricting food intake or interrupting digestive processes. But keep in mind that weight loss surgery is a serious undertaking. You should clearly understand the pros and cons associated with the procedures before making a decision.
Normally, as food moves along the digestive tract, appropriate digestive juices and enzymes arrive at the right place and at the right time to digest and absorb calories and nutrients. After we chew and swallow our food, it moves down the esophagus to the stomach, where a strong acid continues the digestive process. The stomach can hold about 3 pints of food at one time. When the stomach contents move to the duodenum, the first segment of the small intestine, bile and pancreatic juices speed up digestion. Most of the iron and calcium in the foods we eat is absorbed in the duodenum. The jejunum and ileum, the remaining two segments of the nearly 20 feet of small intestine, complete the absorption of almost all calories and nutrients. The food particles that cannot be digested in the small intestine are stored in the large intestine (made up of the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon, and rectum) until eliminated.
Obesity surgery involves making changes to the stomach and/or small intestine
Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery
The primary benefit of weight loss surgery is easy to understand: weight loss!
- Gastric bypass surgery causes an average loss of 61% of excess weight.
- Gastric banding surgery causes slightly less — an average of 47% of excess weight lost.
Improvements in general health are also common. Obesity-related medical conditions usually improve or even go away after weight loss surgery, including:
- Severe arthritis
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- High blood pressure
About 95% of people report improved quality of life after weight loss surgery. Some studies also suggest people live longer after weight loss surgery, compared to equally obese people who do not have surgery