Bariatric Surgery

The Ultimate Guide to Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric Surgery is the term used for a number of surgical procedures known as weight loss surgery. If you are an obese patient, it is often the last resort for shedding large amounts of excess weight you have been unable to shift with a diet and exercise regime.

Whichever form of obesity surgery the patient undertakes, it should be noted that all are extensive procedures – even those performed laparoscopically (key-hole surgery) – rrequir a significant amount of aftercare. Great consideration, therefore, is required as to the practicalities of having weight loss surgery abroad, and a lot of thought must go into searching and finding the right clinic and destination.

What is Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is used to treat patients who are dangerously overweight with potentially life-threatening obesity. There are a number of different types of weight-loss surgical procedures, but they all work in more-or-less the same way. By reducing the size of the stomach, smaller amounts of food are required to make you feel full, so you eat less, consuming fewer calories and resulting in weight loss. The three most common forms of weight-loss surgery are:

• Gastric Band

The stomach’s size is reduced using an adjustable band.

• Gastric Bypass

The stomach is divided, creating a small pouch at the top, and joined to the small intestine further down. This creates a bypass of the stomach and a significant part of the small intestine, so not only does it take less food to make you feel full, but less food is digested by the small intestine.

• Sleeve Gastrectomy

Part of the stomach is removed, thereby reducing its size.

Am I suitable for Weight Loss Surgery?

You may be suitable for bariatric surgery if you have:

• A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or greater;
• A BMI of 35 and another serious health problem, such as high blood pressure, or type II diabetes, that may be improved with weight loss;
• Tried to lose weight by diet and exercise, but to no avail;
• Generally good health;
• Decided to completely change your lifestyle after surgery in order to lose the weight – and keep it off;

How long does the procedure for Bariatric Surgery take?

This depends on what procedure you have. Gastric bands are usually performed laparoscopically, typically taking around an hour. A sleeve gastrectomy takes between one and two hours and a gastric bypass between 90 minutes and three hours.

The gastric band procedure is the only surgery that isn’t permanent, and you will usually be discharged within 24 hours. The other procedures are permanent, and will usually require a hospital stay of between two and five days.

What is the recovery time from Bariatric Surgery?

You will not be allowed to eat for a few days after surgery, to give your digestive system some time to heal. After that, you will be given dietary guidelines, and will start gently, on liquids only, before advancing to liquidized solids and soft foods, such as mashed potatoes, and then onto solids.

As you will have a complete change in your dietary habits, your body will have to adapt to these – as well as rapid weight loss – so you are likely to feel cold, tired, aching and out-of-sorts for the first few months until your body gets used to it.

What is the cost of Bariatric Surgery Abroad?

Prices vary, depending on where you go, and you will have to take into account that bariatric procedures are major surgery and the feasibilities of flying, both as an overweight person, as well as flying back after surgery should be taken into account.

As a general guide, the average price of bariatric surgery in the United States is around $20,000, compared to in Mexico where bariatric surgery can cost around 80% less at $3,500.