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Do you need that surgery to lose weight?

If you are one of those who’ve been thinking back and forth about whether you should go for a weight-loss surgery, then first of all, ascertain whether you need to go under the knife at all.

health and fitness Updated: Feb 21, 2013 02:24 IST
Debasmita Ghosh

If you are one of those who’ve been thinking back and forth about whether you should go for a weight-loss surgery, then first of all, ascertain whether you need to go under the knife at all.

“Weight-loss procedures such as bariatric surgery is a final step for people weighing at least 40kg over their ideal body weight. These people would have unsuccessfully tried many fad diets, and attempted all other means of weight loss. These surgeries are not for people, who are just 10-15kg overweight. They just need to manage their appetite and have a regular workout regime,” says Dr Atul NC Peters, director of Institute of bariatric, metabolic and minimal access surgery, Fortis Hospital, New Delhi.

“These surgeries are not for people looking for cosmetic beautifications but for morbidly obese people for whom the excess weight has become a threat to life, just like any other medical disease such as cancer, organ failure etc,” says Dr Arun Prasad, minimal access surgery specialist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital. We get experts to answer a few other basic queries about bariatric surgeries:

Who needs a bariatric surgery?
Anyone whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is 37.5 or more. To calculate your BMI divide your weight in kilos by the square of your height in inches.


Weight in kilogram
(height in metre)2

So, if your weight is 72kg and your height is 5 feet 7 inches (1.73m), then your

= 24
(1.73 x 1.73)

So you don’t need a surgery!
What are the different types of bariatric surgeries?
There are three types of bariatric surgeries: banding, bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. In banding, the stomach size is reduced by applying staplers across it and thereby naturally reducing the amount of food intake. In a gastric bypass surgery, the stomach is divided into two halves to create a small upper pouch, and a second completely stapled shut bigger lower pouch. In a sleeve gastrectomy surgery, a bigger part of the stomach is removed. Based on medical condition of the patient, the suitable procedure is selected.

Does this surgery increase life span?
Do we ever see an 80-year-old weighing over 100kg? No, because people with that weight don’t live so long. Bariatric surgery does increase your life span. The life span of a 25-year-old, who undergoes this surgery, is increased by about 14 years.

Do these surgeries need to be done every few months, like botox?
No, these surgeries are permanent. The new stomach pouch may dilate to about 10-20% in the coming years, but it does not ever get back to the original size.

What’s the approximate cost of such surgeries?
The cost of the surgery may vary between R2.5 to R4 lakh.
(Answers by Dr Atul NC Peters and Dr Arun Prasad)

They too got rid of it...
American lawyer, journalist and writer Star Jones went down to 66kg from 139kg after her gastric bypass surgery, and lives a much healthier life now

American singer and TV host Carnie Wilson, who weighed more than 136kg, not only lost 68kg through gastric bypass, but she even posed nude for Playboy magazine to flaunt her new figure

Common myths about bariatric surgery
It’s dangerous.
Fact: The risk of bariatric surgeries are equivalent to the risk of having one’s gallbladder removed. In a study of 66,000 obese people over five years, those who opted to have this surgery, lived longer than those who did nothing.

Myth: You’ll never be able to enjoy a real meal again OR now you can eat everything you want.
Fact: Trying to eat too much at one time could make people feel slightly uneasy initially, but steadily they start practicing to eat healthy and reasonable portions. After a bariatric surgery, people learn new eating behaviours, and a person can thereafter live an unrestricted life. They can go out to restaurants, take a cooking class and even host a family dinner!

Myth: You can’t get pregnant after weight loss surgery.
Fact: In reality, women have trouble getting pregnant prior to surgery and find that they’re very fertile following the surgery. So, the possibility of a pregnancy following weight loss surgery very high due to lessening of other health problems. They can even expect to have a normal delivery.

Myth: People undergoing bariatric surgery have a very restricted lifestyle.
Fact: People, who are morbidly obese deal every single day with core issues of self-esteem, pride and emotional abuse. There are physical repercussions of being so overweight (like an inability to control the bladder) that can be embarrassing. Bariatric surgery can actually help restore dignity by giving such people a new self-confidence, eradication of multiple health issues and a new beginning to a healthier life.