Is gastric surgery really the best way to lose weight? Is there such a thing as a ‘quick fix' when it comes to weight loss without the dieting and excess exercise? In this feature, by Jeremy Hunt, an expert cosmetic surgeon based in Edgecliff, we look at whether there really is an easy way out, and whether it really is that easy.
It can seem like such an easy option can't it? Fall asleep under the careful gaze of a skilled surgeon, his loyal anaesthetist, and the rest of the team, and then wake up thinner, leaner and lighter just mere hours later. But is it all really so easy? Is surgery the right way to go? Or could someone looking to shed a few pounds be spared the potential risks and go it alone?
Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery, such as a gastric band, gastric bypass, or cutting edge bariatric surgery, is different from liposuction and tummy tucks. The latter aim to physically remove fat there and then – and although fat is being cut away and disposed of, surprisingly weighing scales aren't really taken into consideration with this. If you end up a few pounds lighter, great. It’s really all about aesthetics. Weight loss surgery is about gradually reducing calories coming in through smaller food portions. It makes it physically impossible to binge and gorge on food, helping you shed the pounds.
There are a few good reasons to consider surgery. Perhaps you've been overweight for a long time. Perhaps you're considered obese, or morbidly obese. And perhaps you've tried (and this is the key here – trying an actual diet and exercise regime with a trainer, not giving up chocolate, ice cream and take-aways for a week then crumbling under the pressure) all manner of weight loss treatments. After speaking to a medical professional, bariatric surgery could be the way to go. But you'll need to fit the requirements needed, and they can be strict.
It should always be seen as a last resort, purely because of the real and immediate risks of complications, or even death. But a skilled surgeon can offer two types of weight loss surgery if you fit the bill:
1. Gastric band
A surgical band is fitted around the top of the stomach to reduce the stomach’s size. This means when you eat even small portions you'll feel more full much, much faster. Food must be eaten slowly, and any bingeing will result in a trip to the sick bucket. Although it might seem like a temporary fix, this surgery is permanent and attempting to remove the band is very risky.
2. Gastric bypass.
This procedure involves literally removing a portion of stomach to reduce its size. Similar to the band above, this will mean that smaller portions will be consumed and you'll feel fuller for longer. Again, this is a permanent procedure.
If you're not suitable for surgery, or worried about the complications, then exercise and a good diet could be the solution. You may say, ‘Oh, but I've tried every diet and I still can't seem to slim down'. And it may be true. In that case, it might be worth thinking about getting a personal trainer or lifestyle coach. Rather than leave it to your own willpower to go for a run or get to the gym after work, a personal trainer will be there every step of the way and will tailor your workout to target the areas that really need work. So once your belly looks slim, it’ll be time to work on your thighs.
What's more, they can suggest a diet plan to work in tandem with your routine. It's not an instant fix. It will be a struggle. But it cuts out the pain and the risks of surgery completely.
So which is the best option?
In this case, it has to be a good routine and real discipline to lose weight. Surgery shouldn't even be considered an option until at least six months of being on a good diet has passed. Then, if it really is a struggle or your genes are conspiring against your best efforts, it's worth getting in touch with your GP or speaking to a professional to discuss your options.