2. Health Benefits of Losing Weight Without Surgery
- Peak Rejuvenation • Nov 20, 2018
One of the most common questions I hear is “what are the benefits from a health and surgical perspective of losing weight without surgical weight loss?”
Let’s think about nutrition. In my opinion, proper nutrition is the most successful way to lose weight. It is critical for you to realize that this weight did not arrive overnight, and it is critical for you to think about weight loss in terms of resetting your mindset and learning to take the weight back off in the most healthy and natural manner possible. Sure, there are surgical options out there which I’ll talk about in a moment, but they are all non-physiologic fixes for an issue which can easily be achieved through close accountability with a PhD Nutritionist. Surgical weight loss comes in many forms, but one thing that they all have in common is that they all decrease your body’s ability to absorb calories. And, in the process, that same fix will also decrease your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. While that may be necessary to actually drop the weight, it can become detrimental to you once you reach your goal. Through proper accountability with your nutritionist, you will lose the weight plus maintain that vital capacity to absorb proper nutrients. Some of those nutrients are vitamins and amino acids. Others are things like vitamin B12, folate, and iron which have been shown to be low in patients after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.1 This is important when it comes to your long-term overall health. And, if you do in fact end up with leftover skin after losing the weight and you consider removing it, this will be very important to decreasing your perioperative risk.
One other question I hear is “why should I avoid bypass for massive weight loss needs?”
Prior to my Plastic Surgical training, I completed a General Surgery Residency. During that, I performed hundreds of gastric bypass surgeries for folks who were unsuccessful with other means of weight loss. There are two main ways in which surgeons bypass or decrease your body’s ability to absorb calories.
Both of these methods decrease your nutrient processing ability. Since most nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine, the Roux-en-Y bypass decreases the length of the small intestine by rerouting it in order to decrease the overall absorption of calories. This process also decreases your ability to absorb nutrients and most patients have to supplement their diets with long-term vitamins to make up this deficiency. If you’ll note, this type of bypass also decreases the size of the stomach to a small remnant about the size of an 1/8 cup which in turn quickens your satiety, or feeling of fullness. The new junction between the stomach and the small intestine is subject to ulcers and tightening.
Next is the sleeve gastrectomy. Unlike the bypass procedure, this technique simply decreases the size of the stomach by removing all but a remnant of it in an effort to quicken satiety. Like gastric bypass, this decreases your ability to process calories as well as vital nutrients.
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1Engebretsen, KV, et al. Anemia following Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass for Morbid Obesity: a 5-year follow-up study. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2018 Aug;53(8):917-922.