What is Non-Surgical Bariatric Weight Loss?

Obesity is a global problem and has become as much as three times more prevalent since 1975. The World Health Organization states that more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight, and around 650 million people are obese. Let’s take the USA, for example; the Centre for Disease Control stated that about forty percent of adults in the states are obese.

A bariatric patient is considered obese, categorized as any person whose body mass index exceeds 30. There are several obesity classes; if a person’s BMI is between 30-34, it’s known as class 1 obesity, if it is between 35 to 39, it is classified as class 2, and class 3 starts from 40 and above.

 Bariatric surgeries are meant for people who are obese and for whom dieting and food changes have had little to no effect on their weight loss journey. Bariatric surgeries are often used as a last resort when other options don’t seem to have any effect.

Types of Bariatric Surgery

There are several types of bariatric surgeries, and they work in different ways; some restrict the quantity of food the stomach can hold or diminish the ability of a body to absorb nutrients, and sometimes a combination of both of these methods is used as well. Here are some of the common types of bariatric surgeries conducted nowadays.

  1. Gastric Bypass: This type of surgery restricts the quantity of food a stomach can hold and reduces the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. The surgery has two main parts: a small pouch is created to divide the stomach into two parts. The small intestine is also divided, and its lower half is connected to the pouch created before. After that, the top of the small intestine is attached to the bottom half, which changes the amount of food the stomach can hold and diminishes its ability to absorb nutrients.
  2. Sleeve gastrectomy: This procedure removes around eighty percent of the stomach, anatomically reducing the overall size of the stomach, thus reducing the overall quantity of the food that can fit inside it.
  3. Gastric band: This process causes the patients to feel full even after eating small amounts of food, as a plastic band is tied around the stomach to divide it into two portions.
  4. Duodenal switch: This procedure is somewhat similar to sleeve gastrectomy and has two parts to it as well. The first part creates a small pouch in the stomach, and in the second part, the intestine is bypassed, which reduces the amount of food the stomach can hold.

Non-Surgical Bariatric Weight Loss

Although bariatric surgeries are effective, they require a significant adjustment period, lifestyle changes, lifelong supplements, and a lengthy recovery time. However, there are few non-invasive methods to reduce the weight that has been gaining popularity in recent years. These methods do take longer to work and require discipline and constant monitoring. Here are some non-surgical procedures to reduce weight in obese patients.

  1. Weight loss medication & nutritional counseling: This is the least-invasive method on this list as it only requires you to take some form of weight-loss medicines and make changes to your diet plan. However, this can also be very hard for many people, and several factors might make this option unfeasible for some patients.

This method requires a patient to control their food cravings and diligently follow their diet plan prescribed by nutritionists. Some studies have shown that with constant medication and food intake control, patients have been observed to lose as much as 5-7% of their weight in a single year.

However, there are a couple of downfalls to this method as well. Some patients have observed immediate weight gain as soon as they stop their medication, and for patients who suffer from class 3 obesity with a body mass index above forty, this may not be the best solution.

  1. Gastric balloon: This method is true to its name; in this procedure, a balloon is inserted into the stomach, which is inflated, taking about ⅔ of the space inside. This reduces the overall quantity of food eaten by a person and aids in feeling full quickly to avoid overeating. This is a minimally invasive procedure, but a patient doe not need to be put under anesthesia, and the entire process is finished within twenty minutes.

Some side effects are associated with this procedure, like bloating, nausea, and belching. However, they fade away within three days.

  1. Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty: This method is similar to sleeve gastrectomy but does not require any incision on the patient’s body. However, this procedure is performed under general anesthesia as an endoscope is passed through the mouth into the stomach. The doctor then sutures the stomach into the shape of a banana, drastically reducing the size of the stomach.

This entire procedure takes about an hour, and some patients go home the same day. One main benefit of this process is that it can be reversed.

This is also one of the most effective and safest non-surgical bariatric weight loss procedures. Some common side effects like nausea and mild pain might occur, but they quickly fade away within the first couple of days.

  1. Aspiration therapy: This procedure is also non-surgical and reversible; a tube is inserted into your stomach and is connected to an external button on the patient’s stomach. This is connected to a device known as AspireAssist, which lets the patients empty some of the food content in their stomachs after they eat a meal. So, no matter how much they eat, they can always stay in control of the total calories they are consuming. The only thing patients need to be wary about is the connection of the tube and ensuring it is positioned correctly.

Conclusion

Overall, there are several methods to combat obesity by non-surgical and invasive methods. However, these procedures require considerable discipline and monitoring as it is entirely dependent on the patient as to how effective they turn out to be in the long run.

Huynh Nguyen

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