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Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is not just one operation. Doctors have a number of excellent options when working with people who are considering surgery as a way to overcome obesity. One weight loss surgery that involves removing part of the stomach is called the sleeve gastrectomy or biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch. This procedure is rarely done, so the concentration here is on the two most popular weight loss surgeries, the lap band and gastric bypass surgery. There is some confusion about the differences between these procedures. Both have their place in the treatment of obesity, and it is important to understand the differences when making such an important and potentially life-changing decision.
The gastric bypass is performed more than any of the other weight loss operations. This is the procedure most people refer to as “stomach stapling.” This is an accurate description of the procedure, as the surgeon actually forms a pouch by stapling the stomach and then attaching part of the intestines to the pouch. The term bypass is used because the stomach and the rest of the intestines are bypassed and are no longer part of the digestive process. The stomach then can only hold a small amount of food, allowing a person to attain a feeling of fullness more rapidly. Further weight loss happens because fewer calories are absorbed.
Is Lapband / Gastric Bypass Surgery?
What Is Lap Banding?
The principle of the Lap Band is similar to bypass surgery in that a pouch is also formed in part of the stomach. In this case, though, the doctor uses an implanted medical device in the form of an inflatable and adjustable ring to form the pouch. The smaller stomach reduces the amount of food that can be ingested and causes a reduction in appetite.
The adjustable nature of the lap band allows the doctor to inject saline into the band to change the size of the pouch. The doctor works with the patient who helps determine what is a comfortable level.
Differences in Surgical Procedure and Recovery
One advantage of the lap band over gastric bypass surgery is that the procedure is accomplished by laparoscopy, rather than invasive surgery. This cuts down on the recovery time and results in shorter hospitalizations. Lap band patients can normally go home the day of the procedure and can be completely recovered in less than two weeks. In contrast, patients who have gastric bypass surgery normally spend several days in the hospital after the procedure. Returning to regular activities can take up to three weeks.
All bariatric surgery requires that the patient follow a clear liquid diet after surgery to allow the gastrointestinal tract to heal. After a day or two, the diet can be expanded to include easily digested foods.
Patients report less pain and smaller scars with the lap band. The lap band allows the nutrition from food eaten to be absorbed normally, and the procedure is entirely reversible.
Why Decide on Lap Band or Gastric Bypass Surgery?
With all of the advantages of the lap band, some patients may wonder why doctors would ever suggest gastric bypass surgery. The lap band is not for everyone. Extreme obesity, some types of previous surgeries, and some other medical complications are potential issues which may preclude laparoscopic surgery. Studies have shown that weight loss is a bit faster with gastric bypass surgery, so that is another reason some people opt for this surgery.
Both procedures have their champions, and both have advantages and disadvantages, depending on the situation of the person seeking help with an obesity problem. For anyone considering either procedure, it is important to keep in mind that the ultimate success of the surgery is dependent on patients strictly following their doctors' instructions on healthy eating. Patients should speak to an experienced bariatric surgeon to understand which procedure is best for their needs. Dr. Pascual is available to explain these procedures in depth and to answer all questions. Contact us to book your complimentary consultation today!