Bariatric surgeons specialize in aiding weight loss through surgery. In addition to counseling patients regarding treatment options, bariatric surgeons are licensed to perform surgeries such as gastric bypass or LAP-BAND procedures. As obesity is a growing health concern throughout the world, the work of bariatric professionals has become a vital branch of medicine and surgery.
Obesity is a condition in which excess body fat affects normal bodily function. Obese people are more likely to experience health problems such as diabetes, heart conditions, and respiratory issues. Traditionally, the cure for obesity is a restrictive diet and exercise that will, over time, restore people to a non-obese body. Yet for some, the struggle to reach a healthy weight is beyond willpower and eating correctly. In these cases, bariatric surgery becomes an option.
Bariatric surgery is usually considered a final option for critically obese patients. If diet and exercise have not worked, surgery may become a life-saving alternative. Bariatric surgeons will often be consulted to determine a patient's candidacy for surgery. Because reduced heart function is a serious concern for the obese, undergoing surgery may be particularly dangerous. Yet for those who are morbidly obese, the risks of surgery may be less than continuing on at the present weight.
There are several different surgeries bariatric surgeons may perform on patients. One class of surgeries focuses on reducing stomach size, which will prohibit the patient from excess intake because they will feel full with very little food. The other main class prevents the stomach from absorbing food and thus turning it into fat. A bariatric surgeon may also choose to use a surgery that blends both techniques, such as gastric bypass.
It is vital that a bariatric surgeon inform patients about the risks of each surgery and possible complications. Even if no complications occur, life after bariatric surgery may be difficult for some people to handle. For several weeks following most procedures, patients must follow a liquid diet. Since malnutrition is a common side effect, a strict vitamin regiment may be required. Even when solid foods are permitted, habitual overeating can be difficult to escape. Post-surgical patients may end up chronically vomiting after consuming more than their new stomach can handle.
Bariatric surgeons are sometimes the last line of defense against obesity. While a successful surgery can, and often does, save a life, complications are common. Like most surgeons, a bariatric surgeon must face the possibility of causing fatalities or lifelong difficulties should the surgery go wrong or complications ensue. Yet most of these talented professionals will see many patients recover safely and go on to live long, healthy lives as a result of the procedure.