The management of obesity follows a predictable and logical sequence of approaches starting with the simplest approach, and going on to the most complex. The initial approach to weight loss will always be diet and exercise. A plan to reduce calories (smaller portions of "normal" foods) balanced with a modest exercise program is step number one.
In some cases this approach has been sincerely and consistently implemented but to no avail. You've done everything you can do and have still not lost the weight. What's next? Any other ideas? Well,...yes. You may be a candidate for surgery to reverse the trend of weight gain.
If your doctor believes that your excess weight is such that it cannot be controlled by conventional methods, he may suggest that you are a candidate for weight-loss surgery. There are two approaches that he will likely discuss with you:
• "Banding": Laparoscopic banding is a technique in which the surgeon puts a band around a portion of your stomach in to reduce its size. You will "fill up" faster and will feel more satisfied with your food intake.
• Gastric bypass surgery re-routes the path that food takes from the stomach to the small intestine. Much of the food that is eaten is not absorbed.
Both types of surgeries cause weight loss. If the stomach cannot hold more than a small portion of food, or, if the food bypasses the stomach and goes directly to the intestine, extra calories cannot be absorbed. However, these serious procedures are not to be considered lightly.
Following either type of surgery, an individual is likely to experience nausea, vomiting, and complications such as bleeding or ulcers. The large weight loss will also leave one with loose, excessive skin which often requires additional surgery for its removal.
An inherent problem following surgery is that the nutrients absorbed are so limited that one will require large amounts of vitamin and mineral supplementation. There is no allowance for extra "treats" because the stomach space is small and every bit of it is needed for healthful foods.
The decision to have surgery is serious. Hopefully a competent surgeon will not even consider you for the procedure unless you have a well-documented history showing that you have really tried to lose weight and have been unable to do so by usual means or that your life is endangered by your weight.
For the vast majority of folks a weight loss program and modest exercise is adequate.
Look at this "eating plan" before considering surgery.
By Sue Bristol, R.N.
There is only one correct way to eat.
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