Surgery for obesity

Obesity is an increasing problem in the Western world and affects all age groups including children. As well as the obvious cosmetic problems that being obese brings there are a large number of medical problems that are likely to develop in overweight patients. These include diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, joint problems and sleep apnoea. Some of these conditions can be life threatening and it is well established that many obese patients are unlikely to achieve their expected lifespan.

Thus there are many reasons for obese patients to lose weight. The obvious solution is to eat less and exercise more. As many of those who have tried will testify this is not easy to achieve, and even when significant weight loss has been achieved it can be very difficult to maintain. Drugs can help but are not without problematic side effects.

There are a number of operations that can result in very significant weight loss.These operations can result in loss of excess weight (that is weight over and above your ideal body weight) of up to approximately two thirds. It is important to note that, whilst possible, it is unlikely that you will reach the ideal weight for your height. Commonly performed operations include gastric banding, gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. These operations are normally carried out using keyhole techniques. Your surgeon will discuss with you which of these procedures is best suited for your particular needs. There may also be alternatives to surgery that can be considered such as the endoscopic insertion of an intragastric balloon. This technique produces less weight loss but may be suitable for patients who do not meet current guidelines for surgery.'

This degree of weight loss can lead to a significant reduction in the co-morbidity associated with obesity. For example diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) can be reversed so that patients are able to come off medication. Similarly the complications associated with these conditions can be prevented.

You would need to be assessed very thoroughly by members of a multidisciplinary team including a nutritionist as well as the surgeon before a decision is made as to whether you are suitable for surgery. Not everyone will be suitable for surgery and a strong motivation to lose weight is an important factor in taking that decision.

For more information please visit our 'Patient Information' page where you can download information sheets relating to the specific operations.