Morbid Obesity is on the rise across the world and in India too. In India alone, ~15% of the population is obese.

Bariatric surgery is a viable solution that helps obese people recover and regain their health and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Here are a few FAQ related to bariatric surgery that you may have on your mind before considering the surgery.

Q. What are the main causes of obesity?

Ans. Sedentary lifestyle habits, consumption of processed foods, ready-to-eat meals, and decrease in physical activity are the main causes of obesity.

Q. When is bariatric surgery recommended?

Ans. Bariatric surgery is recommended to patients with BMI of 32.5 and more i.e.,class II obesity and above. If your BMI fallsbetween 32.5-37.5, bariatric surgery will be recommended and if you have at least 2 obesity associated health issues (diabetes, hypertension, heart disease etc.). If your BMI is more than 37.5 with or without any health issues, you are eligible for bariatric surgery.

However, just falling in the BMI categories isn’t sufficient to undergo the surgery. Dr. Harsh Sheth, a well-known bariatric surgeon in Mumbai, at Saifee Hospital,and his team will thoroughly assess patient motivation levels and psychological fitness to undergo the surgery, which is something that differentiates him from a lot of other bariatric experts.

Q. What are the different types of bariatric surgery?

Ans. There are two endoscopic and three laparoscopic bariatric surgeries.

Endoscopic procedures can be performed by using a narrow pipe with a camera at the tip. The 2 main types are

  1. The gastric balloon insertion which entails insertion of a balloon into the stomach with a capacity of ~500 ml, which makes the patient feel satiated. This is a temporary procedure as the balloon has to be removed after 6-12 months.
  2. Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty, wherein the stomach is narrowed down by using endoscopic sutures, thus reducing the capacity of the stomach.

These endoscopic procedures are performed for the lower BMI patients and usually do not lead to drastic and durable weight loss. These procedures can result in approximately 50-60% excess body weight loss.

Laparoscopic procedures are performed by placing small key holes in the tummy to pass a camera and instruments to operate on the stomach and intestines, also known as laparoscopic surgeries. There are 3 main types,

  1. Sleeve gastrectomy, wherein 2/3rd of the stomach is stapled off to reduce the capacity of the stomach.
  2. Gastric bypass in which the stomach is modified and the intestines to reduce the capacity of the stomach and alter absorption of nutrients to favorably alter metabolism to allow significant weight loss.
  3. Mini-gastric bypass (or one anastomosis gastric bypass) which is similar to the gastric bypass, with mild alterations in the type of bypass.

All these procedures can cause one to lose 70-90% of their excess body weight.

Q. Is it safe to perform bariatric surgery during the current pandemic situation?

Ans. Obesity has been linked to adverse outcomes in individuals infected with COVID-19. The coronavirus has unleashed worse outcomes in obese patients.

Considering the above, bariatric surgery will actually help obese individuals lose weight and improve their overall health to prevent them from succumbing to COVID-19 related complications.

Obese patients choosing to undergo bariatric surgery during the pandemic need to follow certain protocols and precautions to avoid getting infected in the immediate peri-operative period.