Weight loss surgery refers to a variety of procedures which directly affect your stomach and digestion. By reducing the size or capacity of the stomach, the procedures ensure the patient naturally reduces their food intake, and therefore aids weight loss. These procedures are performed under general anaesthetic and will usually require at least an overnight stay in hospital. Patients are required to have nil by mouth 6 hours before the surgery is scheduled and must arrange for someone to pick them up once they are discharged.
Gastric Band Surgery
This surgery involves a keyhole procedure to place a small silicone band around a section of the stomach, effectively creating a smaller pouch. This pouch will feel like a smaller stomach, and will therefore lead to the feeling of being full far quicker than usual. The band allows food to slowly pass through into the bottom part of the stomach, where it is digested normally, meaning that there is also that fuller feeling for longer. The band is connected to a small 'port' which lies under the skin and which can be accessed by your doctor to loosen or tighten the band as needed. The cost of gastric band surgery is usually around £7000 or less, but can differ from surgeon to surgeon.
Gastric Bypass Surgery
This is a slightly more complex procedure, and as such can be more costly. It is also harder to reverse, and can be referred to as 'having your stomach stapled'. Depending on the surgeon it involves either keyhole or open surgery, whereby the stomach is divided semi-permanently using surgical staples. The small intestine is removed and reattached to the new, smaller stomach that has been created, therefore shortening the digestive system also. This double effect means that not only will the patient be fuller quicker, but that less food (and less calories) will be able to be fully absorbed into the body. Due to the complexity of the procedure, the cost is substantially more than that of a gastric band, and can be up to £15,000. If you are unsure which procedure would be best for you, your GP will be able to give you more information and point you in the right direction.
Occasionally, these procedures can be paid for by the NHS, if your doctor feels you meet the guidelines. Typically, a patient must be termed morbidly obese, meaning that their BMI is over 40 and their weight poses a large concern regarding health. Again, speaking to your GP is the first port of call, and surgery should only be considered as a last resort.