Do I qualify for surgery?
In order to qualify for surgery, you must meet criteria established by the National Institutes for Health. All surgeons in the United States who perform weight loss surgery must follow these guidelines, which include:
- BMI greater than 40 or greater than 35 with at least one major weight-related comorbidity.
- Age 18 years old or older.
- Demonstrated previous failed attempts at nonsurgical weight loss.
- No unstable psychiatric disorder.
- No active dependency on narcotic medications (ie. Oxycontin or methadone), alcohol, or illegal/recreational drugs.
- Must be committed to a healthier lifestyle and set realistic goals.
- Must be able to understand the risks and consent to the procedure willingly.
Have questions? Call the Center for Surgical Weight Loss at (401) 736-3731 to speak with our weight loss experts.
How does weight loss surgery work?
To understand how the surgery works, you need to understand the normal digestive process. The stomach stretches as it fills with food and it slowly releases a chemical ("hormone") into the blood stream to let the brain know what's going on. It can take at least 20 minutes before the brain realizes what's happening and makes us feel full. Eventually food exits the stomach and passes through the digestive tract. The nutrients and calories are broken down by digestive juices and absorbed into the body. The "waste" then reaches the colon which reabsorbs fluid and stores waste until it is evacuated.
Bariatric operations help patients lose and keep off weight through three important mechanisms:
- Restriction - This limits how much food you can eat and helps make you feel full.
- Malabsorption - This limits how calories and nutrients are taken up or absorbed into your body.
- Hormonal changes - Many of the hormones that make us feel hungry or are involved with blood sugar regulation and "cravings" lessen after surgery. This is one of the major ways diabetes is controlled or cured within days of gastric bypass surgery even before a person loses any weight.
The lap band works mainly by restricting food intake. The sleeve gastrectomy involves restriction and hormonal changes. The gastric bypass does all three.
History of Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery has been around since the 1960s. The first gastric bypass surgery was performed by Dr. Edward Mason in 1966 at the University of Iowa. At the time, Dr. Mason was performing a lot of stomach surgeries for ulcers and cancers when he made the important observation that these patients then had a difficult time maintaining their weight. That's when he decided, "I'd take the undesirable effect of gastric resection, which was weight loss, and use it for a desirable effect, to treat obesity."
Bariatric surgery has evolved tremendously since that time. It is widely accepted now as the most successful long-term treatment for obesity and weight-related diseases. However, even today, there is no cure for obesity. Not even surgery. Surgery is a tool. It is very effective when a person is dedicated to a healthier lifestyle including better eating choices and increased physical exercise. That's also why there are choices. At CNE, we offer three surgical treatments; the lap band, the sleeve gastrectomy and the roux-en-y gastric bypass (RYGB).