Bariatric Surgery Process

Bariatric Surgery Process

Obesity is a problem across the world and can lead to more damaging health issues. But who is classed as obese, and what solutions are there? We’ll answer the first question in a moment, and as for the second the solutions available are known as bariatric surgery or weight loss surgery. However, these options are not available for just anyone.


Furthermore, a patient who wishes to undergo bariatric surgery and qualifies for such will be required to not only agree to quite radical lifestyle changes, but to also follow them through. This will include eating a healthy diet, indulging in more exercise, and generally living a healthier and more sensible life.


Obesity can be caused by over-eating, lack of exercise and a diet rich in unhealthy foods. It can also be genetic and may come about by way of certain conditions, especially those that restrict the sufferer from movement. In the article that follows we will look at who the candidate for bariatric surgery is, and what steps to take towards undergoing the procedure.


Step 1: Do you qualify for Bariatric Surgery?


So, do you qualify for bariatric surgery? If you are merely overweight the answer will be no. Visit a doctor with this problem and he or she will devise a weight loss plan involving exercise and dietary restrictions. Even if you are obese, you may not qualify so let’s look closely at who is a candidate for bariatric surgery.


The defining factor is the Body Mass Index (BMI) of the individual. This is a measure of weight against height, sex, and age. There is no specific ‘good’ BMI as it will vary per individual. However, anyone with a BMI of more than 30 is considered obese. Next, we need to look at what happens at the initial consultation.


Step 2: Schedule your consultation with the Bariatric Surgeon


The initial consultation will involve a series of questions about your lifestyle and health that will determine the best method of weight loss surgery for the individual. Blood will be taken for analysis and a medical imaging procedure will also be undertaken. These are so that the patient can be accurately assessed for the procedure. The surgeon will discuss all aspects with you, and you may be asked some personal questions so be prepared.


Step 3: Attend other consultations with respective team members and begin lifestyle support program


After the initial consultation you will be asked to meet with the remainder of the team, including the endocrinologist, dietician, and psychologist. The aim is to assess you extensively and explain the lifestyle changes you need to commit to both before and after the surgery. It is important that each of these is explained carefully and in detail so that you understand that it is a difficult choice to make and one you need to really want to undergo.


Step 4: Preparing for your bariatric surgery


The Bariatric Surgeon will advise you as to what to do to prepare for the upcoming bariatric surgery procedure. This may involve creating a diet plan for you to begin following. It will almost certainly insist that you stop smoking at least for the six weeks prior to the procedure. This preoperative visit will usually occur between four and six weeks prior to the procedure date.


Step 5: Undergo the procedure


The surgeon will have explained which of the bariatric procedures you will be undergoing, and this will have been done in detail, so you know what to expect. Each of the three common weight loss surgery routines is performed using a laparoscope. This is a small surgical device inserted via a minor incision for minimal invasiveness. However, each procedure differs, so let’s briefly talk about each one.


  • Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding or the lap band procedure involves wrapping a belt-like band around the stomach. This is then tightened to create two parts of the stomach with a small passage between. The idea is that you eat less before you feel full as the food has to pass slowly from one part to the other.
  • Gastric bypass surgery involves literally bypassing the stomach and small intestine by way of a rearranging the entry and exit points for food. The not only reduces the amount of food one can eat but also stops the body from taking up nutrients that enable weight gain.
  • Sleeve gastrectomy involves attaching a permanent sleeve around the stomach that reduces its size by up to 85%, thus making the patient feel full sooner.


Next, a brief at what to expect immediately after the procedure and for the future.


Step 6: Post-surgery recovery


You will be given a liquid only diet devised by a nutrition expert to follow for the first couple of weeks. You may feel sore, and some patients experience bleeding and sickness. These side effects should fade quickly, so if they don’t get in touch with the doctor. You will be required to attend a follow-up appointment for checks after 4 to 6 weeks.



Step 7: Adopt a New Lifestyle


You now have the task of changing your lifestyle quite considerably. You will need to indulge in more exercise, to eat healthily, and to generally live a healthier life. Only by following the rules laid down will you lose the weight that you have undergone surgery to lose. If you successfully continue living your new lifestyle your weight will reduce and you can be happy about yourself once more.

Surgery will be considered after the patient has unsuccessfully undergone medical diets; has been under the care of a dietician and a psychologist and feels that further attempts at diets will be unsuccessful i.e. a candidate for surgery must have first tried and failed less invasive treatment options.

Obesity Unit South Africa