We hear about people having weight loss surgery - having their 'stomach stapled', and so on - with a kind of horrified fascination. What could drive someone to do a thing like that? For the vast majority of people, weight loss surgery is not in the books - if your weight problem is mild to moderate, you are much better off controlling it through diet and exercise rather than resorting to surgery.
A small percentage of people, however, have already 'tried everything' and found that their bodies hold onto the weight despite their best efforts. And the problem of obesity goes far beyond the aesthetic - being morbidly obese can be nothing short of deadly. It heightens your chances of having a heart attack or other type of cardiac disease. It also raises your chances of contracting adult onset diabetes. Both of those conditions can be deadly - and they often are. For that reason, if you are very overweight and have literally 'tried everything' to lose weight, you may want to talk to your doctor about weight loss surgery.
This is not to be confused with cosmetic surgery such as a tummy tuck or liposuction, which physically removes fat from your body so that you look better. Weight loss surgery is designed to 'make' you lower your food and calorie intake. There are two basic types: one type of weight loss surgery makes the stomach cavity smaller. This means that you feel full faster, and that your stomach can't hold the amount of food that it used to. The other type of weight loss surgery interferes with the absorption of food after it is eaten. During digestion, most of the absorption of fat and calories takes place in the small intestine. If there's no absorption, the food doesn't make you gain weight. Of course, this also means that you don't benefit from the nutrients in the food. But if part of the small intestine is surgically bypassed, then less fat and calories are absorbed no matter how much food you eat.
These sound like major surgical procedures, and in their own way, they are. However, they no longer need to involve a lot of scarring and a lengthy hospital stay. Some weight loss surgery can now be done through a laparoscopy - a tiny incision through which surgical instruments are introduced and used. Because this means less actual cutting, the recovery time is a lot shorter, too.
If you have ever struggle to lose weight, the thought of weight loss surgery may seem tempting to you. However, most doctors won't even consider doing weight loss surgery unless you fit their set of criteria - you must be very overweight (what is medically termed as 'morbidly obese'), not just slightly overweight. There must be a medical reason for doing the surgery - for example, if your weight is becoming an overriding health issue by causing or contributing to diabetes or heart disease. Finally, you must have a willingness to change your lifestyle and habits.
This last item may surprise you, if you had been thinking of weight loss surgery as a way to avoid having to change your lifestyle and habits! No such luck. To a certain degree, just having the surgery will automatically make you change certain habits, especially if you and your doctor opt for shrinking the stomach cavity. On the other hand, just having the procedure means that you have to be careful about what you eat. For example, because the stomach is now smaller than it used to be, you will have to limit your intake of liquids, especially carbonated liquids. You will have to make sure that the food you do eat is of high quality, because you have to get all the nutrients your body requires from a decreased quantity of food. Finally, you will also have to start exercising to keep you metabolism going, because eating less food over a long period of time could cause your metabolism to decrease, putting you back at square one.
In short, weight loss surgery can be a very helpful tool, but it is not a 'final solution' to your weight problem. Having the surgery indicates that you are committed to your weight loss, and that you are willing to implement the lifestyle changes that go along with it.