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Laparoscopic Surgery for Weight Control

Questions and Answers for Patients

Laparoscopic surgery for weight control is surgery to treat severe obesity using a specialized telescope (laparoscope) resulting in a small abdominal incision. This handout will explain to you:

  1. What is severe obesity?
  2. Medical and surgical treatment options .for severe obesity.
  3. How laparoscopic obesity surgery is performed.
  4. Expected outcomes of the procedure.
  5. What to expect if you choose to have laparoscopic surgery for obesity.

What is "clinically severe obesity"?

Severe obesity, sometimes known as "morbid obesity", is defined as being 100 Ibs. or 100% above ideal body weight according to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company height and weight tables. Between 3 and 5% of the US adult population has severe obesity. This condition is associated with the development of life-threatening complications such as hypertension, diabetes, and coronary artery disease to name a few. Numerous therapeutic approaches to this problem have been advocated, including low calorie diets, drugs, behavioral modification and exercise therapy, but the only treatment proven to be effective in the long-term management of morbid obesity is surgical intervention.

What causes severe obesity?

The cause of severe obesity is poorly understood and there are probably many factors involved. In obese persons, the set point of stored energy is too high. This altered set point may result from a low metabolism with low energy expenditure, excessive caloric intake, or a combination of both disorders. There is some scientific data that suggests obesity may be an inherited characteristic. Severe obesity is most likely a result of genetic, psychological, environmental, social, and cultural influences that interact resulting in the complex disorder of both appetite regulation and energy metabolism. Severe obesity is not simply a lack of self-control.

How is severe obesity treated?

Medical Treatment:

In 1992, the National Institutes of Health Conference concluded that non-surgical methods of weight loss for patients with severe obesity are not effective in the long term, except in rare instances. Data reviewed at that time showed that nearly all participants in any non-surgical weight loss program for severe obesity regained their lost weight within five years. Although prescription and non-prescription medications are available to induce weight loss, there is no role for long-term medical therapy in the management of morbid obesity. Drugs that reduce appetite can result in an 11 to 22 pound weight reduction; however, weight regain is rapid once medication is withdrawn. Various professional weight loss programs use behavior modification techniques, in conjunction with low calorie diets and increased physical activity. Weight losses of one to two pounds per week have been reported. However, nearly all weight loss is regained after five years.

Surgical Treatment:

A number of weight loss operations have been devised over the past 40 years. The two operations recognized by most surgeons today include the vertical banded gastroplasty and the Roux-en-y gastric bypass. The vertical banded gastroplasty involves the construction of a small pouch with a restricted outlet to the lower stomach. The outlet may be externally reinforced to prevent disruption and dilation. The gastric bypass procedure involves constructing a small gastric pouch, which is constructed of a Y-shaped limb of small bowel of varying lengths (Roux-en-y gastric bypass). Choosing between these procedures involves the surgeons' preference and consideration of the patient's eating habits. The gastric bypass procedure generally results in greater weight loss but has a higher risk of nutritional deficiencies.

Who should be considered for obesity surgery?

The following guidelines for selecting patients for obesity surgery were established by the National Institute of Health (NIH):

  • Patients should exceed ideal body weight by at least 100 Ibs. or 100%.
  • They should have no known causative metabolic or endocrine causes for the morbid obesity.
  • They should have an objectively measurable complication (physical, psychological, social or economic) that might benefit from weight reduction.
  • They should be intelligent enough to understand the full importance of the proposed surgical procedure, including all known and unknown risks.
  • They should be willing to be observed for a prolonged period.
  • They should have attempted weight reduction using conservative treatment modalities without success. In rare circumstances, patient who are not quite 100 Ibs. or 100% above ideal body weight are candidates for surgical intervention if they have significant medical problems that might benefit from weight reduction.

How is laparoscopic obesity surgery performed?

The laparoscopic approach to obesity surgery is different from the traditional "open" approach that uses a 10 to 12 inch incision only in the method of accessing the stomach and intestines. In other words, the operations are exactly the same as the open approach, except five to six small incisions (1/4 to 1/2 inch) are used instead of the ten to twelve inch abdominal incisions. In a laparoscopic procedure, the laparoscope, which is connected to a video camera, is inserted through small abdominal incisions, giving the surgeon a magnified view of the patient's internal organs on a television monitor. The entire operation is performed "inside" the abdomen after gas has been utilized to expand the abdomen.

Effect of surgery on associated medical conditions:

Weight-reduction surgery has been reported to improve conditions such as sleep apnea, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Many patients report an improvement in mood and other aspects of psychosocial functioning after surgery .

Because the laparoscopic approach is performed in a similar manner to the open approach, the long-term results are comparable. Advantages of the laparoscopic approach include, reduced postoperative pain, shorter hospital stay (1-3 days), a faster return to work (5-10 days) and improved cosmesis.

Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide a general overview of severe obesity and laparoscopic obesity surgery. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Definitive recommendations may vary among health care professionals. Any questions or concerns can be discussed with your doctor.

Many of Dr. Teng’s patients travel from near by towns to seek his expertise in bariatric surgery. We have provided directions to our practice from the following cities for your convenience:

Home | Understanding Weight-Loss Surgery | Sleeve Gastrectomy | LapBand | Roux-en-y Gastric Bypass | Single Incision Surgery
da Vinci® Robotic Surgery | Is WLS right for me? | Health Effects of Obesity | Seminars & Support | Calculate Your BMI | Credentials | Success Stories
eStore | Finances | Contact Us
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