What is Bariatric Surgery?
How does bariatric/metabolic surgery
help lose weight and keep it off?
Bariatric surgery is defined as “surgical procedures performed on the stomach or intestines to induce weight loss”.
In order for a person with morbid obesity to achieve significant long-term weight loss, the body’s weight regulation system must be reset so that the body will stop storing excess fat.
Bariatric/metabolic surgery modifies your set point. By altering the complex relationship your body has with food and its metabolism, bariatric surgery helps reset your body’s ability to effectively manage weight. By altering the anatomy of the stomach and/or intestine, these surgeries affect hormonal signals, resulting in decreased appetite, increased feelings of fullness, increased metabolism, and healthier food preferences.
These positive changes allow your body to lose weight without the internal fight to return to the higher set point. Without the hormonal changes and alteration of the “set point” that bariatric surgery provides, the research shows that many patients with significant obesity are not successful in managing their weight and health conditions by diet alone.
Why do we offer “laparoscopic” surgery?
Bariatric surgery that was first started in the 1950’s was performed by open or conventional approach of a cut right down the middle of the belly as shown in the figure below (picture). This often resulted in a debilitating infection in the cut, which took months to heal.
One third of patients developed an incisional hernia, a medical term for a large defect in their abdominal wall, that allowed the intestines to leave the abdomen and emerge just under the skin, creating a very large and visible bulge in the abdomen. This hernia is very difficult to repair, even by the most experienced general surgeons.
Laparoscopic surgery began in the 1990’s and is considered less invasive because it replaces the need for one long incision to open the abdomen. The patient is left with 5 small (less than 1 cm) cuts that heal quickly and minimize pain (picture below). When a laparoscopic operation is performed, a small video camera is inserted into the abdomen. The surgeon views the procedure on a separate video monitor. The camera and surgical instruments are inserted through small incisions made in the abdominal wall. Typically, by one year after surgery the 5 small scars nearly completely disappear and are not visible for most people.
Our founding bariatric surgeon Dr. Nicolas Christou, performed the first elective laparoscopic gastric bypass in Canada at the McGill University Health Center in 2002.