Bariatric, or weight loss surgery, is indicated for patients who are morbidly obese and already have tried diets, exercise, and other non-surgical means of losing weight. The surgery helps patients eat less through a variety of mechanisms that differ with the type of procedure done. Although the definition varies depending on the insurance company, in general a person is a candidate for weight loss surgery if he or she has a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40. Patients with a BMI of at least 35 may qualify if they have additional conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, or degenerative joint disease. Candidates for bariatric surgery must meet certain goals and requirements before surgerycan be approved, and typically it requires a serious commitment to substantial lifestyle changes.
The three most common types of weight loss surgery are gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and adjustable gastric banding. A gastric bypass is performed by creating a small pouch out of the stomach and routing the gastrointestinal tract to this pouch, so that food empties into the pouch and bypasses the remainder of the stomach and first portion of the intestine, greatly limiting the amount of time the food spends in the digestive tract. A sleeve gastrectomy is performed by removing about 80% of the stomach, leaving an area approximately the size of a banana and leading to a diminished appetite. Gastric banding involves placing an inflatable belt around the top of the stomach to reduce the flow of food into the stomach.
Obesity is a medical problem that can have wide-ranging mental and physical effects on a person. If you or a loved one has struggled with obesity for some time and has tried unsuccessfully to combine a healthy diet with exercise to lose weight, UAB Medicine is the place to turn. Led by Richard Stahl, MD, and Jayleen Grams, MD, the bariatric surgery program at UAB Medicine has been performing weight-loss procedures for more than 30 years, and it is the first American College of Surgeons Level 1 Bariatric Surgery Center in Alabama. This history, combined with our standing as a respected academic medical center, puts UAB Medicine at the forefront of weight-loss surgery.
Complicated pre- and post-operative bariatric patients frequently are referred here, which gives us a unique perspective on weight-loss surgery, its risks, and its limitations. We do not view surgery as a quick fix for weight loss, nor should it be a patient’s first consideration when contemplating weight-loss methods. A multidisciplinary approach involving surgery, varied medical specialists, nutrition, psychology, and physical therapy is used in the evaluation and management of a patient’s obesity. An active and ongoing weight-loss support group meets regularly and is open to all patients, whether they have had surgery or are considering it.
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Meet the bariatric surgery team and learn more about the types of operations, goals, risks, overall process and if you may be a candidate.
Bariatric Surgey Program Overview
Discover how three patients used weight loss surgery to overcome their struggle with obesity and take back their lives
How Obesity Surgery Helps People Reclaim Their Lives
Led by Richard Stahl, MD, and Jayleen Grams, MD, the bariatric surgery program at UAB Medicine has been performing weight-loss procedures for more than 30 years, and it is the first American College of Surgeons Level 1 Bariatric Surgery Center in Alabama. This history, combined with our standing as a respected academic medical center, puts UAB Medicine at the forefront of weight-loss surgery.
Adjustable Gastric Band Surgery
Adjustable gastric band surgery is usually performed laparoscopically by inserting small, specialized instruments into the abdomen through small incisions. During the procedure, a small, inflatable silicone band is attached to the patient's upper stomach. This restricts passage of food into the rest of stomach and prevents a patient from eating large amounts of food quickly. By reducing the amount of food consumed, weight loss can be achieved. The band can be adjusted by inflating or deflating it with saline through a port placed below the skin during the surgery. Laparoscopic banding surgery patients usually are released from the hospital one to two days following surgery and can return to work as early as two weeks after surgery. Weight loss surgery is not a cosmetic procedure, and there is some degree of risk. Complications occur in approximately five percent of all bariatric surgeries. Patients are expected to follow a mandatory recovery diet and follow-up guidelines from the surgeon to help minimize the risk of complications and better the chances of weight loss. Those patients who diet, exercise, and follow the guidelines set by their surgeon tend to have the best results. Typically, gastric banding patients lose between 25-40 percent of excess weight and have about a 40% chance of keeping the weight off.
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