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Weight Loss Surgery: Reversible and Non-Reversible Treatments

Understanding the different types of weight loss surgery treatments

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) obesity has almost tripled over the past four decades. More than 1.9 billion adults worldwide were overweight in 2016, and around 13 per cent of them were classed as obese. And yet obesity is preventable.

briefing paper to the House of Commons in January 2021 revealed that 28% of all adults in England were obese, with a further 36% being overweight. In comparison to OECD nations, a 2017 study shows that the UK has the tenth highest rate of obesity. The countries with the worst obesity levels in the OECD include the USA (40%), Chile (34%) and Mexico (33%). The lowest obesity levels in OECD nations were reported in Korea (6%) and Japan (4%).

Earlier this year in the Middle East, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi experts reported a disturbing rise in overweight and obesity levels among young people in the UAE, with prevalence rates of 14.45% in children aged five to 17.

A wide range of surgical weight loss treatments are available to adults today. All can help you lose weight but not every treatment is suitable for every individual.

Some of these weight loss treatments are permanent, while others are temporary and the treatment can be reversed. In this article we explore some of the main reversible and non-reversible treatments for weight loss.

Reversible weight loss surgery

Gastric balloon

This is where a soft intra-gastric balloon is placed into your stomach via a tube down your throat. The balloon is filled with air or salt water and makes the stomach feel full, so that you are less likely to overeat. The balloon is usually removed after a maximum of six months. This type of surgery costs from an average of £4,349 in the UK to £5,500 in London.

Adjustable gastric band

When a gastric band is fastened around the stomach, the result is a small ‘pouch’ at the top. This ‘pouch’ becomes your stomach and very little food is needed to fill it (certainly, much less than before). You quickly feel full and are less likely to overeat.

A small device is placed under the skin which can be used to tighten the band around a month after surgery. The device is injected with salt water solution via a needle. The band is usually adjusted several times to find the right tightness for the patient. No anaesthetic is necessary. Surgery costs a national average of £6537.

Gastric plication surgery

Laparoscopic gastric plication is a new weight loss procedure, using minimally invasive surgery techniques. It reduces the stomach capacity to just a few mouthfuls. The reduction in size is achieved by folding the stomach into itself and stitching the folds using non-absorbable sutures. The operation can be performed in around an hour. The cost of this procedure varies from £3,800 around the UK to £5963 in London.

Bariatric revision surgery

Sometimes the ‘pouch’ or sleeve stretches to such a degree that it is no longer effective. This could be because the individual’s diet and exercise routine has lapsed, the initial sleeve was too big, or the band has slipped. Bariatric revision surgery can then be performed.

The surgery involves tightening the band stomach once again. This can often be performed using an endoscope.

Scar tissue from the first operation, together with thickening of the stomach, can make a second operation more difficult to perform. The weight loss after such revision surgery is typically less than the first time round. Bariatric surgery typically ranges from £3,995 to £15,000.

Non-reversible weight loss surgery

Gastric bypass surgery

Gastric bypass surgery is similar to the use of a gastric band to tighten the stomach to form a ‘pouch’. But in the case of bypass surgery, the pouch is formed by stapling at the top of the stomach.

This pouch is connected to the small intestine (bypassing the remainder of the stomach). You will need less food to be full and won’t take in as many calories. Cost is around £8,000 to £15,000.

Gastric sleeve surgery

The stomach is physically shrunk in gastric sleeve surgery. That is because a large part is removed by the operation. Again, a smaller stomach needs less food to fill it. Expect to pay from £8,000 to £10,000.

Obesity is considered a lifelong chronic condition that can not simply be resolved by  having surgery and becoming a thinner person. Lifestyle changes including a careful  diet with portion control and good food choices and exercising three to five times a week need to be factored in.

Obesity increases the risk of severe illness

Obesity increases the risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, deep vein thrombosis, joint problems, type 2 diabetes and more. Obesity also tends to lead to mental health difficulties and a reduced quality of life in general.

It’s critically important to also note that excess weight has also been linked with an increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.

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