The options for weight loss in today’s market range from simple diet and workout plans to invasive surgeries.

While surgery may seem like an appealing choice for those who’ve tried the diet route without success, there are many non-surgical weight loss options that are safer and offer fewer long term complications.

Understanding Surgical Options

Bariatric surgery works in two ways—by restricting the amount of food your body is physically capable of holding or shortening the length of intestine available to absorb nutrients. 

Doctors achieve this by:

  1. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, in which a pouch is created at the top of the stomach to hold food and the intestine is rerouted to this pouch, cutting off a huge portion of the stomach and intestine.
  2. Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, a procedure that involves a band connected to a balloon at the upper portion of the stomach, with a port that fluid is injected into and removed by to fill and empty the balloon. This band constricts the size of the stomach and makes you feel full sooner.
  3. A sleeve gastrectomy, in which part of the stomach is removed, forming a tube-like shape that doesn’t allow as much food to enter.
  4. A biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch, a procedure that closes off part of the stomach and bypasses most of the small intestine.

Risks of Surgical Options

All surgery carries certain risks, but those associated with weight loss are more serious. 

During the surgery itself, there are the usual anesthesia complications and risk of infection.

In the weeks directly after surgery, most patients deal with acid reflux, chronic and debilitating nausea and vomiting, and the inability to eat certain foods. More complicated side effects can include the esophagus dilating and stomach obstruction.

The most emotionally crushing complication after undergoing a weight loss surgery is a weight gain, or a failure to lose weight.

The long term effects are even scarier. Problems with low blood sugar, dizziness, and vomiting continuing long-term are fairly common, a condition known as dumping syndrome. Many former bariatric surgery patients develop ulcers, hernias, and bowel obstructions. 

Bariatric surgery does lead to weight loss in almost all participants. However, a percentage of those experience such a wide range of the above-mentioned symptoms that they later regret the surgery, and up to 20% regain at least some of the lost weight in the first year.

Non-surgical Weight Loss Options

If you can’t seem to drop the pounds through more traditional methods but aren’t crazy about the idea of going under the knife, you have another option.

Non-invasive weight loss procedures exist that require little to minimal sedation and can be completed in as little as 20 – 30 minutes. Most non-surgical weight loss options involve gastric balloons.

Gastric balloons inserted into the stomach have a similar effect as gastric surgery. They are soft, flexible, and removed after about 6 months.

When doctors insert the balloon into your stomach, it takes up room. Therefore you become full faster, causing you to eat less.

Paired with healthy lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise, gastric balloon patients have wildly successful non-surgical weight loss results!

Obrera – 1 Ballon

The Obrera option requires just one in and out treatment for insertion and removal of a single gastric balloon.

Doctors fill the balloon with a saline solution once it’s placed in the stomach. Obrera requires some sedation, although it’s inserted endoscopically and noninvasively.

Obrera gastric balloons stay inside the patient for roughly six months.

Learn more about Obrera.

ReShape – 2 Balloons

ReShape gastric balloon procedures are quite similar to the Obrera procedure.

Doctors endoscopically insert the balloon into the stomach, where it’s filled with a saline solution. ReShape does require sedation.

However, the ReShape gastric balloon differs from others as it is a dual dumbbell-shaped balloon. The shape helps prevent deflation and bowel obstruction.

ReShape gastric balloons stay inside a patient for about six months and boast the first FDA approval!

Obalon – 3 Balloons

One of the most unique gastric balloon options, Obalon involves three separate balloon insertions, about one month apart.

Obalon gastric balloons are quite small comparatively and are swallowed by patients, rather than inserted endoscopically. Doctors fill the balloon through the attached tube.

This procedure is much easier on the patient.

Additionally, doctors fill Obalon balloons with gas, rather than saline. They are much lighter than their saline alternatives, and therefore, less nausea-inducing.

However, when the six-month deadline arrives, doctors must remove the Obalon balloons endoscopically, which requires sedation.

Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty – No Balloons

Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty is most similar to a gastric bypass or sleeve surgery. However, it doesn’t require surgery.

Instead, doctors place sutures around your stomach to reduce its size and capacity through an endoscopic tube. Although endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty requires sedation, it’s also an outpatient procedure.

Expect the procedure to take about an hour and a half and require mild pain killers for two to three days after the procedure. Unlike gastric balloon options, endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty is not meant to be temporary.

Benefits of Skipping Surgery

The benefits of non-surgical weight loss procedures are profound.

First, not everyone is a candidate for weight loss surgery. This includes but isn’t limited to those who:

  • cannot commit to a lifestyle change to supplement the surgery
  • don’t have a BMI over 40
  • can’t stop smoking
  • cannot safely undergo surgery
  • have untreated psychological food issues

Second, surgery entails a lot of risks. Bariatric surgery applicants should never overlook possible complications.

Short Recovery Time

Non-surgical weight loss options take much less time to recover from.

Most options will get a patient out of the hospital the same day and require only three days for a full recovery.

The surgical options require three to five weeks, after spending two to three days in the hospital.

Low Cost

Gastric balloon procedures generally cost under $10,000. Alternatively, the endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty procedure costs up to $12,000, which is still half of the surgical option.

Extremely Manageable and Short-Lived Pain

Because the non-surgical weight loss solutions don’t involve going under the knife, the patient’s pain is quite minimal.

However, there is slightly more pain involved in the endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty because it uses sutures.

Temporary (Mostly)

With the exception of the endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty procedure, most non-surgical weight loss options are temporary, lasting roughly six months.

This is a great benefit, as it will not affect the rest of your life, aside from the weight loss!

Keep it Off

Learning to keep the weight off is the number one most important thing for any patient.

Many people are resistant to the lifestyle change required to maintain a healthy weight. However, patients will find their weight loss doubled or tripled with a healthy diet and exercise routine! Check out more ideas, advice, and tips about healthy living

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