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Bariatric surgery is a group of surgical procedures which can be performed on severely obese people in order to reduce their body weight and the risk of obesity-related diseases and complications. This type of surgery should only be performed in specialized centers. It is essential that the patients are closely monitored after the procedure, with regular, long-term follow-ups.

Who can get bariatric surgery?

As explained above, bariatric surgery is designed for severely obese people. It is considered a solution where other options, such as lifestyle and dietary changes, failed to be effective. There are precisely defined criteria for the degree of obesity that qualifies for bariatric surgery.

An adult person can qualify for bariatric surgery if his or her body mass index or BMI is equal to or higher than 40kg/m2 or 35-40kg/m2 combined with other, obesity related conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This BMI, combined with the fact that other, non-surgical measures have failed to lead to clinically beneficial body weight over the period of at least three months, may make a person a good candidate for bariatric surgery. The potential candidate must be able to relieve anesthesia without adverse reactions and also must fully commit to long-term follow-up, strict lifestyle and dietary changes.

Bariatric surgery is considered a first-line option for patients with BMI higher than 50 kg/m2.

The criteria are the same for young people, as long as they have achieved their full physical maturity and complete development.

Choice of procedure

There are several types of bariatric surgery for obesity. Restrictive surgery may incloude sleeve gastrectomy and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding. Biliopancreatic diversion with/without duodenal switch is a malapsorptive procedure while Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is both restrictive and malapsorptive. Gastric stimulation and ingergastric balloon are still considered experimental procedures.

It is very important to allow a team of experienced specialists to determine which type of procedure represents the best option for an individual patient. There is no general rule about the choice of procedure and it is vital to assess all factors regarding the patient, his or her condition, general health and similar.

Benefits of bariatric surgery

The most significant benefit of bariatric surgery is, obviously, weight loss, although this is not always guaranteed. It seems that malapsorptive procedures lead to more significant weight loss than restrictive ones, but they do carry higher risks.

Reduction of diseases related to obesity is another major benefit of bariatric surgery, especially when it comes to diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer.

Finally, bariatric surgery may be able to increase life expectancy in patients who suffered from severe obesity prior to the procedure.

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