woman holding excessive fat belly

If you’re considering weight loss surgery, there are several factors to consider when deciding which procedure is right for you. Your body mass index (BMI) is one important consideration, along with your current diet and lifestyle including smoking and alcohol use. You’ll also need to consider any existing medical conditions, such as diabetes or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (sometimes abbreviated to GERD or GORD). This article will explore each of the different weight loss surgery options and who they’re suitable for.

Gastric Balloon

During this weight loss procedure, a soft silicone balloon is inserted into your stomach, which partially fills it, giving you a feeling of fullness more quickly even after small meals.

A gastric balloon is suitable for people with a BMI of between 27 and 35 or for those who are preparing for further surgery but need to have a lower BMI to proceed. Having a gastric balloon fitted only takes around 15 minutes and you will be able to go home the same day. It’s one of the safest and least expensive weight loss treatment options but is only a temporary solution as the balloon is removed after six months.

Gastric Band

A gastric band is an inflatable silicone band that divides your stomach into two, creating a little top pouch that can only accommodate a small amount of food, which means you feel full quicker.

This type of gastric surgery is reversible and can help you lose between 50 and 60% of your excess weight with a low risk of serious complications. Gastric bands are licensed for people with a BMI of over 30 but you will require regular clinic appointments to adjust the band.

Gastric Sleeve

During gastric sleeve surgery, around 75% of your stomach is permanently removed, leaving only a narrow tube or sleeve. The procedure also affects your hunger hormone, reducing your appetite, meaning you’ll only be able to eat small meals and feel full for longer. This type of weight loss surgery can offer dramatic weight loss and is suitable for people with a BMI over 35. It will encourage you to eat a low-fat and low-sugar diet as if you don’t, dumping syndrome can occur. It may not be suitable for people who suffer from acid reflux and heartburn as it can make these symptoms worse.

Gastric Bypass

During a gastric bypass, your stomach is divided into two parts and the upper section is connected to your small intestine. The surgery reduces your overall food intake and also prevents some of the food you eat from being digested.

This type of weight loss surgery is suitable for people who have a BMI of over 35 and a medical condition that could be improved by weight loss or for those with a BMI of over 40 with no existing medical conditions. Gastric bypass surgery isn’t suitable for smokers or people with a high alcohol intake. There is a small risk of alcoholism, due to increased alcohol absorption, therefore if you decide to have a gastric bypass, you will usually be advised to avoid alcohol completely. For people with diabetes, a gastric bypass can be an effective treatment.

A gastric bypass is a permanent procedure that results in dramatic weight loss, with patients expected to lose around 70% of their excess weight on average. However, it is the most intrusive form of bariatric surgery and does come with a risk of nutritional deficiencies, excess skin and dumping syndrome.


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