Bariatric surgery is an effective, if not the best, treatment for very severe and morbid obesity. It allows you to lose up to 50 kg in one year and up to 40% of the initial weight in the long term. It immediately and significantly reduces associated pathologies such as diabetes, hypertension, or cardiovascular risks. Finally, it improves the quality of life by increasing the possibilities of physical activity, social relations, self-esteem, and sexuality.
The waiting period for bariatric surgery can be up to 4 years. During this time, you could benefit from a healthy weight management program.
Use this time to plan for the life changes you will need to make and to think about the implications of the surgery in your daily life.
A demanding path…
But beware! The surgical approach alone is not sufficient to guarantee and preserve long-term weight loss. It will only be effective if it is accompanied by preparation and, above all, serious follow-up. It will be necessary to return to the fundamentals of a healthy lifestyle: regular and appropriate physical activity, stabilization of eating habits and psychological support in order to maintain morale and avoid the return of the initial toxic behaviors.
Steps related to bariatric surgery
Step 1: Join the waiting list
Step 2: Nursing appointment
Step 3: Appointment with the surgeon
Step 4: Preoperative assessment
Step 5: Bariatric surgery
Step 6: Post-surgery follow-ups
Step 7: Nutrition follow-ups
Step 8: Nursing and medical follow-ups
… and full of pitfalls!
Any surgery has its share of risks. The risks associated with a bariatric procedure depend on its nature and that of the patient — weight, age, medical history, and related problems, such as coronary artery disease, diabetes or taking certain medications. In any case, the surgical team is responsible for informing the patient about all these risks.
Thus, difficulties can arise on a daily basis, and several months after the operation. For example:
- Postoperative complications such as slipping of a gastric band or leaking stomach or intestinal suture requiring further intervention
- Nutritional deficiencies which must be compensated by a better variety and/or supplements of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements
A modified body envelope that may require plastic surgery interventions as well as an adjustment of self-perception and relationship to others
Finally, we must not hide the fact that the risk of mortality associated with bariatric surgery, although very low, is not zero. Estimated at about 1% of cases, it is half as high as that of coronary bypasses, but twice as high as for the removal of the gallbladder. In short, it’s a “Think about it”.
The good news is that success often follows. Thus, it is important to note the “Success Factors” observed in people who lose a lot of weight and enjoy better health following bariatric surgery:
They learned about the risks, requirements and benefits specific to each type of intervention.
They surround themselves with a network of people eager to see them succeed.
They begin as early as possible, before surgery, to adopt new habits with regard to diet and exercise.
They give their body time to recover by following the plan prepared by the team of health professionals.
They are completely rethinking the way they eat and drink, favoring small portions and healthy foods.
They couldn’t achieve their goals without exercise.
They listen to their body and are on the lookout for the signals it sends them.
They meet their team of health professionals and thus benefit from adequate follow-up.
1 Source: Chirurgie de l’obésité: Ce qu’il faut savoir avant de se décider, Haute autorité de santé, France, 2009 (PDF, 480 Ko). FRENCH ONLY
2 Source: Chirurgie bariatrique – Comment choisir la procédure la mieux adaptée à vos besoins (PDF, 10,4 Mo), Ethicon Endo-Surgery, recommandé sur le site du Centre de chirurgie bariatrique de Montréal. FRENCH ONLY
Bariatric surgery is a heavy intervention technique and a last resort that is only offered to people who meet three criteria:
- Suffer from either morbid obesity (BMI greater than 40 kg/m2) or severe obesity (BMI greater than 35 kg/m2) associated with complications justifying surgery.
- Have tried to lose weight by conventional methods without this improving their condition in a satisfactory way.
- Be in a state of health that allows surgery and, in particular, general anesthesia to be tolerated.
Your doctor can help you deal with the excess weight. Consult your doctor to see what options are available to you.
To consult a surgeon, you can register on the waiting list at: www.chirurgiebariatrique.com/fr/questionnaire
To go further
- You can consult : Guide d’alimentation de chirurgie bariatrique (PDF, 1,3 Mo) available only in French
- Read Chirurgie de l’obésité : le suivi psychologique est la clé du succès, eSanté (France). June 2016. Available only in French