What Are The Safest Bariatric Surgeries And Procedures?

If the traditional methods of losing weight you have explored to combat obesity have been unsuccessful, you may be looking into getting some medical assistance. In the past, your options would have been limited to only surgical solutions for weight loss. Still, over the years, a new family of bariatrics has been developed called endoscopic bariatrics.

This new family of bariatrics focuses not on surgeries but on procedures that do not require any incisions or cutting. It is important to understand that these are two distinct categories, with the procedures offering a much lower risk profile when compared to bariatric surgery safety. Procedures also offer significantly shorter recovery times, and they are reversible.

At Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Centers, our priorities are patient safety and excellent results, which is why we focus on procedures rather than surgery. Today we are going to lay out the options for medical weight loss assistance listed in order from what is considered safest, and gradually working up to the ones that carry more risk.

Low-Risk Weight Loss Procedures? The Safest Options For Weight Loss

Intragastric Balloon

This non-surgical procedure is done by placing a balloon-like medical device in the stomach and inflating it with liquid saline. It takes up a considerable amount of space inside the stomach and makes the individual feel somewhat full all of the time. This limits the amount of food they can eat at one time and helps them keep from feeling hungry. The device is only used temporarily, and after a predetermined amount of time, the balloon is removed. This, coupled with behavior changes and better nutritional and lifestyle choices, helps patients lose weight.

Risks: After the insertion of an intragastric balloon, around a third of individuals deal with nausea and vomiting, but this normally resolves within a few days as the stomach grows accustomed to its new roommate. Your doctor can give you some medication that will help with these symptoms if you need it. While rare, there is a possibility of more serious side effects, such as the balloon deflating and becoming lodged in your digestive tract, causing a blockage, inflammation of the pancreas, ulcers, or stomach perforation, that require surgical medical attention.

Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty (ESG)

This procedure is done without using surgery or incisions of any kind and is carried out using a tool called an endoscope that is put down the individual’s throat while they are sedated. During this low-risk procedure, the doctor uses the camera on the endoscope to guide them while they work. They reduce the stomach capacity by manipulating it from the inside and placing several sutures to form and hold it in a new shape that looks like a crescent-shaped pocket. The newly formed pocket can only hold a tiny amount of food, and the smaller stomach causes the rate of digestion to slow down, so the individual does not get hungry as often. ESG can be reversed if necessary, but it is sturdy enough to last long-term as well. When paired with healthy eating habits, an adequate amount of physical activity, and changes in lifestyle habits, ESG offers a significant weight loss potential of around sixty percent of the patient’s total body weight.

Risks: Since this is not a surgery and is considered minimally invasive, it has a very low-risk profile. Some individuals experience some stomach discomfort along with nausea and vomiting but these should not last very long, and the doctor can prescribe some medicine to help alleviate your discomfort.

The risk of rare complications is about 1% and includes bleeding, stomach tears, infection, stomach leaking, serious blood clot issues, a collapsed lung, and pneumoperitoneum (gas accumulation in the abdomen).

The Main Differences Between the Surgical & Endoscopic Sleeve

Read the experiences of people who claim that "gastric sleeve ruined my life". Learn about a non-surgical alternative Suture Sculpt.

What Is Moderately Safe Weight Loss?

Gastric Sleeve Surgery (GS)

Many people ask, “Is bariatric sleeve surgery safe?” Gastric sleeve surgery is the most popular bariatric surgery and is the safest of all the surgical choices. During this surgery, a large piece of the individual’s stomach is cut out with a scalpel, and the remaining edges are shaped into a long, slender tube-like pouch and affixed together with surgical staples. This helps people lose weight by limiting the amount they can eat in one sitting, keeping them feeling satisfied for a longer time, and reducing their feelings of hunger. The stomach’s reduced size slows down its rate of emptying, so it remains full for a longer time, and the portion of the stomach tissue that was removed is the area responsible for manufacturing a hormone called ghrelin that causes hunger pangs. The combination of these three elements can help individuals lose around 60% of their excess body weight.

Risks: The surgical alterations that are made to the stomach are permanent and cannot be reversed. Gastric sleeve surgery has a moderately safe profile risk of about 11% and a mortality rate of around 1%. Risks include bowel injury, bleeding, nerve injury, collapsed lung, nerve or muscle injury, staple line leak, infection, deep vein thrombosis, pneumonia, abnormal heartbeat, stroke, pancreatitis, and urinary tract infection. Longer-term risks include stomach stricture, inadequate weight loss, dehydration, gallstones, hernias, liver disease, hair loss, and nutritional deficiency. One report that is noteworthy suggests that staple line leaks and bleeding are more common during gastric sleeve surgery than most realize, with many incidences going unreported. The surgical team takes corrective action during the operation and treats them as if they are all part of the process.

What Are Moderate-Risk Bariatric Surgeries?

Gastric Bypass Surgery (GB)

For those wondering, “How safe is bariatric surgery?” The answer depends on many different elements, such as the type of surgery, the patient’s health status, their BMI prior to surgery, etc. Any surgery comes with risk factors, which can include complications or unforeseen issues during the surgery, right after surgery, or even years down the road. There is much more involved in a GB compared to a GS, so the risks are elevated.

In addition to the stomach being made smaller to limit the individual’s intake of food, the path of their small intestine is altered to be much shorter. This circumvents part of the digestion process and does not allow the body to absorb all the calories or nutrients from the food that is passing through. GB uses both restrictive and malabsorptive weight loss techniques.

Risks: The same risks associated with gastric sleeve surgery and anastomosis (a leak in the new connection between the stomach and the small intestine), Stomai stenosis (a narrowing in the connection between the stomach and the intestine that causes chronic vomiting after eating or drinking), peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal membrane), and dumping syndrome (a condition that can occur anywhere between 15 minutes and a few hours after eating with symptoms such as bloating, cramps, dizziness, heart palpitations, confusion, fatigue, tremors, fainting, etc caused when food travels from the stomach to the bowel quickly). It is caused by eating certain foods (mostly sugary foods) and can be controlled through dietary changes.

Higher-Risk Bariatric Surgery Safety Profile

Duodenal Switch

The duodenal switch surgery combines some of the elements of GS and GB surgeries and is more complex, so it has a higher risk profile. The first part of this surgery is actually exactly the same as the gastric sleeve, and then a larger portion of the small intestine (about 70%) is bypassed than during a gastric bypass. (about 30%) This bariatric surgery is the most drastic form available, but it also yields the most weight loss. In cases where complications of obesity have reached life-threatening status, this may be the best option. Patients normally lose between 75% and 95% of their excess weight.

Risks: Since this surgery is actually a combination of gastric sleeve and bypass surgeries, all the risks associated with those procedures also apply. Additionally, vitamin and nutritional deficiencies are much more prevalent after this surgery, so patients must be committed for life to taking their doctor-prescribed supplements and be conscious of their protein intake. Patients who undergo duodenal switch surgery often experience issues with exceptionally foul-smelling gas or stool.

A Thought About Bariatric Surgery Safety

Obesity is a serious health risk because it is the contributing factor behind several serious medical conditions. Losing weight is the only way to combat obesity and mitigate the risk of developing one of these medical conditions. So, when we ask ourselves if bariatric surgery is safe long-term, we must consider our current condition and the picture of our health at the moment. While bariatric surgery does carry some risks, they are often worth taking in order to correct an issue that is worse.

Endoscopic Procedures Offer Safer Alternatives To Surgery

Depending on your circumstances, you may have the option of using a non-surgical procedure that uses endoscopy instead of having to worry about the safety of bariatric surgery. Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Center offers Suture Sculpt ESG, which can help you lose weight safely without the risks involved with surgery. Most patients are back to their normal routine within a few days, and they do not need to worry about restricting their activities or schedule. We encourage you to set up an appointment if you are looking for a proven weight loss strategy that is safe and very low-risk. Take a look at some of our patients’ triumphs and how much healthier they are after their Suture Sculpt procedure.

Obesity is a complex issue, and there is no magic one-size-fits-all solution. Let the experts at Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Center help create a customized plan with your circumstances and goals in mind.

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