Ask a hundred people on the street for tips on how to lose weight, and you’ll receive a hundred different answers. Some might say fad diets while others might point to specific exercises, like running, walking, or swimming.
The basic idea behind weight loss is to eat less and exercise. And for many people, that advice works. But when you become morbidly obese, which is characterized as being 80 to 100 pounds over your ideal body weight, dropping those excess pounds isn’t so simple.
Read our article: What is Morbid Obesity & How Does it Affect You?
For those with morbid obesity, the easiest and fastest way to lose weight is to turn to a procedure known as gastric bypass surgery. Let’s look at this procedure to discover how it makes weight loss easier.
Read our article: How Much Does Bariatric Surgery Help to Control Obesity?
“Why is My Body Fighting Against Weight Loss?”
Even if a morbidly obese person is motivated to lose weight, and they do everything right, the weight often remains. The person can drop a few pounds, but the excess weight usually returns a short time later.
In some cases, the individual will gain more pounds than they lost. As you can imagine, this is frustrating for someone who wants to slim down and become healthier, only their body seems to be fighting against them.
It’s Not About Willpower
It’s a common belief that those who are obese lack motivation or willpower. But that’s not the case at all. There is a biological reason why morbidly obese individuals find it so difficult to shed the excess pounds.
One study looked at 50 obese men and women who were required to eat a low-calorie diet totaling 500 to 550 calories per day for eight weeks. The men weighed 233 pounds and the women weighed 200 pounds at the beginning of the study. After ten weeks, the patients lost an average of 30 pounds.
At the end of ten weeks, the subjects were asked to stop the low-cal diet but were instructed to do all they can to try and maintain their new lower weight. The patients were counseled by nutritionists and advised to exercise regularly. Despite their efforts, the patients started gaining the weight back.
After a year, each of the patients had gained an average of 11 pounds. When asked about their struggles, the patients reported feeling excessively hungry and preoccupied with food compared to before they lost weight.
Read our article: Why Am I Always Hungry? And Other Facts About Your Appetite
Sadly, this is the experience of most morbidly obese individuals who try to lose weight. Let’s examine a few reasons why.
Why Is Losing Weight So Difficult When You Suffer from Severe Obesity?
One of the culprits in the struggle for the morbidly obese to shed the excess pounds is the hormone leptin, which regulates satiety. Leptin is produced by fat cells and tells the brain that the body’s energy stores are full.
Read our article: How Weight Loss Surgery Affects Hunger & Fullness
When you gain weight to the point of obesity, your body becomes less sensitive to leptin. This makes it harder to slim down. That means the more weight you gain, the harder it is to lose the excess pounds.
Now you know why you always feel hungry as an obese person looking to lose weight.
Another reason why the weight seems to cling to your body is that you don’t have the calorie-burning capacity to lose weight compared to someone of normal body weight.
It would take more exercise at a higher intensity to lose weight because your metabolism slows down when you reach the level of obesity.
Thirdly, if you get the sense your body is fighting against your efforts to lose weight, you’re not wrong. The human body has mechanisms that won’t allow you to restrict calories to such a degree to enact long-term weight loss.
When you limit calories, your metabolism slows down even more. This is an attempt to conserve energy stores, so you don’t die. Your body will simultaneously send out hunger hormones that force you to seek out food. This is all meant to stave off starvation and is the very reason you find it so hard to lose weight as someone who is morbidly obese.
The good news is that bariatric science has figured out how to tweak the body to make weight loss easier. Here is where procedures like gastric bypass surgery can be a game-changer.
What is Gastric Bypass Surgery?
The simple definition of gastric bypass surgery is a procedure that helps the morbidly obese lose weight by altering the digestive system.
The bariatric surgeon makes your stomach smaller before rerouting your altered stomach to your small intestine to help you manage the food you eat more effectively.
The result is that you eat less because of the diminished capacity for food in your stomach. You also feel satiated faster with less food because of hormonal changes that occur on account of the alterations made to your digestive system.
When you eat after gastric bypass surgery, the food no longer travels to some parts of your digestive system. That means some of the food you eat will not get absorbed by your body. Your body, in turn, absorbs fewer calories, and the weight melts off as a result.
Here is the gastric bypass surgical procedure explained in greater detail.
The Gastric Bypass Procedure Step-By-Step
Before you can have gastric bypass surgery, you will need to be placed under general anesthesia. You will be asleep during surgery and won’t feel a thing. Nor will you remember anything when you wake up in the recovery area.
Once you are unconscious, the surgery can begin.
The Stomach is Made Smaller
The first part of the procedure is aimed at diminishing the space inside your stomach. The bariatric surgeon uses staples to divide the stomach into a small upper portion and a larger bottom portion.
The top portion of your stomach (nicknamed the stomach pouch) is where food will go when you eat. The staples make this portion around the size of a walnut, enabling the pouch to hold around an ounce of food. This means you will only be able to eat an ounce or 28 grams of food at a time, helping you eat less.
The Intestinal Bypass
The next aspect of gastric bypass surgery is to reroute the stomach to the intestine. The surgeon connects a small part of the small intestine (named the jejunum) to a small hole in the stomach pouch (the smaller upper stomach portion). When you eat meals after this change, the food travels from the stomach pouch to the new opening and into your small intestine. This causes your body to absorb fewer calories.
As you can imagine, the weight tends to come off quickly after surgery on account of these changes to your digestive system.
Your Bariatric Surgeon Has Options When Performing the Gastric Bypass Procedure
The gastric bypass can be performed in one of two ways.
Open Gastric Bypass Surgery
Your bariatric surgeon can opt to open your abdominal cavity by using a large surgical incision. This gives the surgeon access to your internal organs.
The other method is known as laparoscopy.
Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass Surgery
With this type of surgery, the bariatric surgeon places a tiny camera inside your belly by way of a tiny incision. This scope lets the surgeon view your internal organs through a monitor. Other tools are inserted via separate cuts made around your abdomen. The scope and instruments allow the surgeon to enact the changes to your digestive system without opening your abdomen directly.
There are several advantages to having laparoscopy when compared to open surgery.
When you have open surgery, because of the larger incision, there may be greater risks to your health. Risks can include excessive bleeding and infections, among others. Laparoscopy comes with lowered risks because of the smaller incisions and high-tech tools employed.
Open surgery also comes with a longer hospital stay during recovery. That recovery time can be uncomfortable as your body heals from the procedure. Laparoscopy offers a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery, and less pain.
Open surgery can involve a large scar because of the significant incision made along the body cavity. Laparoscopy makes for smaller scars that are typically hidden within the natural folds of your body.
Both methods of gastric bypass typically take between two and four hours to complete.
How Does Gastric Bypass Surgery Make Weight Loss Easier?
The most obvious reason weight loss is easier following the gastric bypass is because you end up eating less than you did before surgery.
The surgical procedure also alters the hormones in your body. The first change is to the hormones secreted by the intestines that make you less hungry overall. Hormones are also altered that help your body regulate blood sugar.
As a side note, gastric bypass surgery is considered a treatment for obesity comorbidities, one of those being type 2 diabetes.
The third reason you lose weight easier and faster after gastric bypass surgery is that some of the fat in the food you eat is no longer absorbed by your body.
How Long Does It Take to Lose Weight After Gastric Bypass Surgery?
Most patients are thrilled in the months after their procedures, as the weight tends to come off quickly. To give you some idea of how much weight you can lose, and how quickly, most people lose between 15 and 30 pounds in the first few weeks alone.
The weight will continue to fall off from that point on at a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week for the first year.
For many patients, this means weight loss of 50% to 60% of their excess body weight, with most keeping at least 50% of their excess weight off over the long term.
Read our article: How to Keep Lost Weight Off Long-Term
How to Ensure the Weight Stays Off After Gastric Bypass Surgery
It is important for you to understand that gastric bypass does not help you lose weight all on its own. You must also do your part. You can help your body shed the excess pounds by living a healthy lifestyle and getting regular exercise.
The good news is that you don’t have to do it all on your own. When you work with a bariatric surgeon, you receive a weight-loss treatment plan that has you working with professionals like a dietician, physical fitness expert, and psychologist.
Read our article: The Best Weight Loss Surgeon in Los Angeles – Top Qualities to Look For
A dietician will help you form healthier eating habits. You’ll become more cognizant of what to eat and the proper times to eat, even when dining out.
A physical fitness expert will help you choose exercises that are easy on your body (and your joints). An expert can also teach you how to ramp things up when you encounter a weight-loss stall or wish to drop even more excess pounds without overdoing it.
Read our article: Is Building Muscle Possible After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
A psychologist can teach you how to overcome bad habits like binge eating, stress eating, and bored eating, all of which can derail your weight loss efforts.
You may be pointed in the direction of a support group as well, which will put you in contact with others who have also had gastric bypass surgery. You can share experiences and gain a better understanding of what it takes to enact and maintain long-term weight loss.
Are You Ready to Lose Weight More Easily Using Gastric Bypass Surgery?
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery states that there were over 252,000 bariatric procedures performed in 2018. In 2019, that number jumped to 256,000 with 17.8% of those accounting for the gastric bypass.
With obesity becoming an epidemic in this country, scientists say that weight loss surgeries like gastric bypass are highly underutilized. With this procedure being effective for both obesity and comorbidities like type 2 diabetes but also heart disease, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and others, it’s important that everyone knows about this safe and effective bariatric surgery.
If you would like to know if you are a good candidate for gastric bypass surgery, call Healthy Life Bariatrics in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki and his compassionate staff can educate you about the procedure, the risk of potential surgical complications, and the life-changing benefits.
Dr. Moein (for short) uses laparoscopic techniques that offer smaller incisions, less downtime, nearly invisible scars, and amazing results when compared to more “open” type surgeries.
Learn more by scheduling a discrete consultation with Dr. Moeinolmolki. Dial (310)694-4486 today. This one phone call could change your life for the better.