Are you on the fence about weight loss surgery? There are good reasons to
think long and hard about it -- as well as reasons to do it.
That’s because, as the pounds melt away, people feel the difference
immediately -- and that helps them embrace a new mind-set, says Anita
Courcoulas, MD, MPH, chief of minimally invasive bariatric surgery at the
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Exactly what your surgeon will do when you get weight loss surgery depends on what type of surgery you're getting. Weight loss surgery works in three basic ways:
Restricting how much food your stomach can hold at any time. This is "restrictive" weight loss surgery.
Preventing your digestive system from absorbing all the nutrition in the food you eat. This is "malabsorptive" surgery.
A combination of these two ways
Here's what each procedure involves.
"They learn what it feels like to feel better and have improved
health," she tells WebMD. "The surgery gives them a tool to reinforce
the positive lifestyle changes. That's where support groups are really
important, too, in reinforcing their commitment."
Want to know more? These profiles should give you a sharper picture of life
after successful weight loss surgery.
Joy (Jray946) on WebMD's Message Board:
Joy had gastric bypass surgery a little over a year ago -- and reached her
goal by the ninth month out.
"I am so glad I had the surgery. In fact, every time someone tells me
how great I look it makes me feel like a million bucks," she says. "I
would recommend it to others. In fact I have and some of them are well on their
way to reaching their goals."
To maintain her weight and health, Joy exercises almost every day. "I
feel so much better for the change," she says. "My health has improved
so much my doctors are amazed. I am able to do things that a year ago I could
never have managed, such as playing basketball with my grandchildren."
Joy's dress size has dipped from 26/28 to a size 8. "My husband is so
proud of me ... says he has a new wife!"
Joy's key challenge: Joy has a lot of loose skin, which she didn't
expect. Because of serious reactions to anesthesia, surgery to remove it may be too risky. Daily exercise
is keeping the weight off, but so far it hasn't helped tighten her skin much.
She keeps a positive attitude: "I tell everyone that I have become a sexy
senior citizen with my new look, and they agree."
Mignon P., Memphis, Tenn.:
Four years ago, 27-year-old Mignon weighed 275. After gastric banding surgery, she is
now 160 -- well past her original goal of 175. "My mom says ‘Don't you lose
any more weight,’" she says. "That's something I've never
Overweight since childhood, Mignon tried everything -- Jenny Craig, Weight
Watchers, fad diets. The decision to have weight loss surgery was difficult,
but once she had made up her mind, the rest was easy.
Mignon's key challenge: She doesn't like getting adjustments in her
band. It requires a needle stick in the abdomen -- and "the stick is
nothing compared to the sight of that needle," she says. "I just close
my eyes. I know it's going to fix my health in a positive direction."