HOW IT WORKS
During Bariatric surgery, the stomach is closed off leaving only a small pouch about the size of a thumb for food. As a result, patients feel full on fewer calories. However, the most common procedure -- gastric by-pass surgery-- goes one step further. Surgeons not only shrink the stomach but also reroute the small intestine to thwart the digestive process, thereby decreasing the number of calories absorbed.
This is achieved by making a direct connection between the stomach and a lower section of the small intestine. The first segment, the duodenum, is skipped entirely. The duodenum's chief responsibility is igniting the digestive process and absorbing iron and calcium from food. So in the end, patients eat less and absorb fewer calories. Sound too good to be true? Consider the price!
Side Affects of the Surgery
As with any major operation, bariatric surgery is far from foolproof. The death rate nears 1% (SJ Bariatrics has managed a much lower rate .05%) meaning up to 400 people may die from the procedure this year alone. As many as 20% of patients need additional surgery to mend complications such as abdominal hernias. Due to malabsorption in the shortened digestive tract, roughly 30'% of patients develop nutritional deficiencies, such as anemia and osteoporosis, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. These problems can be managed with a stringent vitamin and protein regime.
Then there are the lifestyle changes. People who once ate freely and copiously must become hyper attentive to what they are eating. The new stomach requires several tiny, nutrient-rich meals a day supplemented with additional vitamins and minerals and protein. Eating too much or indulging in rich, sugary, or fried foods can overload the sensitive pouch and cause dumping. See Terms for the New Patient.