Obesity is a growing health problem in western countries. This is mainly due to the increased processed, high-refined sugars and low-fibre diet that so many communities live on and the reduced active lifestyle, due to the convenience of cars and computer-based jobs, done by many.
Obesity is ultimately an eating disorder, caused by an energy and calorie surplus and it causes many health problems.
Our appetite is controlled by our brains. We eat to satisfy our appetite. Whether this be because of an energy deficit (every cell in our bodies requires energy from respiration and metabolism which requires glucose), vitamin, or mineral deficit.
To motivate us to do this, our brains (which are the same ‘caveman brains’ as our biological ancestors) produce chemicals called neurotransmitters which control our behaviour.
These neurotransmitters include Serotonin (the happiness chemical), which calms us down and which is broken down into Melatonin, which helps us sleep. It also includes Dopamine (pleasure and reward), Adrenaline (for activity), Acetylcholine (for mental alertness) and GABA (which calms and relaxes us) and many more. Two common surgical interventions which have become increasingly popular in the UK and abroad, helping to manage and reduce obesity are gastric bands and gastric bypasses; two types of bariatric surgery options.
Bariatric surgery options, like cosmetic treatments and dental treatment options are becoming increasingly popular reasons for people to travel to receive the treatment (healthcare tourism) at a more affordable rate.
Which Hormones Affect Our Appetite?
There are two key so-called ‘appetite hormones’ called Ghrelin (which makes you hungry) and Leptin (which tells you when you are full) which work with your blood glucose levels and Insulin. Leptin and Ghrelin work in tandem. For example, when Ghrelin is high (and you feel hungry), Leptin will be low and vice versa.
There are also important chemicals called Polypeptide Y (PPY) and Cholecystokinin and Orexin, to tell you when your blood sugar is low.
We eat for energy, though a process called respiration by which the body makes energy, and pleasure, as eating produces increases in Dopamine which rewards us for eating by increasing Serotonin.
What Is a Gastric Bypass?
Both gastric bypass and gastric bands are weight loss surgeries aimed at reducing the biological appetite and portion size and encourage weight loss. Both surgeries reduce the size of the stomach so an individual can feel more satiated and fuller after eating less. A gastric bypass involves stapling the top of the stomach to create a small pouch which is then connected to the small intestine.
The bypass works because the stomach is smaller, the receptors (detectors) in the stomach that respond to the stretching of the stomach to tell you when you are full, are activated at a faster rate, and so you feel fuller after consuming less and lose weight. Leptin levels increase sooner and Ghrelin decreases, further reducing appetite.
This surgery is done under general anaesthetic by gastric surgeons in both NHS and private care in the UK and abroad. After the surgery a specific diet must be maintained, and the stomach capacity is reduced by about 75%. This surgery is highly invasive and irreversible.
What Is a Gastric Band?
A gastric band on the other hand is a type of surgery where a band is placed around the top of the stomach, reducing the size of the stomach. It fools the receptors in the stomach into thinking the stomach is full. Therefore, the brain is satiated after consuming less, and the appetite is reduced. This operation is again conducted under general anaesthetic.
Unlike the gastric bypass operation, this surgery is reversible. As the appetite is smaller, a person’s weight reduces, and as the weight goes down, the size of the stomach is naturally reduced. Therefore, the band can loosen as the stomach decreases. This band is loosened via a small adjunct just under the skin.
Eventually, when the person reaches a healthy weight, the band can be removed. The patient will have to maintain a steady balanced diet with lots of activity to sustain a healthy weight and prevent weight relapse. This is obtained with nutritional coaching and prescribed meal plans, which are tailored to the patients’ specific nutritional requirements.
Throughout both a gastric bypass and gastric band procedure cycle, a person’s weight must be carefully monitored, and their bloods checked to ensure no nutritional deficiencies emerge. The heart health and cholesterol levels will be observed regularly to ensure no blood pressure or heart rate changes emerge. A food, sleep and activity diary will be taken to record a person’s habits and see how they change with treatment.
What Are the Alternatives to a Gastric Band or Bypass?
Obesity is a severe eating disorder where a calorie surplus causes poor health including increased risk of infertility, diabetes, cardiovascular heart disease, osteoarthritis, liver and kidney disease, damage to joints, weakened immune system and gout. Without treatment and intervention, a person’s quality of life is reduced and the risk of disability adjusted life years (DALY) is increased.
Treatment can prevent this. Often gastric bypass and bands are used as a last resort after lifestyle interventions have failed. They are often seen as a long term-maintained fix after years of weight cycling and the health complications this can cause.
How Can GlobMed Help?
The consultants at GlobMed have worked with both the NHS and private health care services for decades.
We know where the best professionals are to help advise you as how to manage your weight and acquire the right treatment for your specific needs. We are aware of the bottomless pit of promises from weight loss companies and the frustrations this can cause and thus, we work hard to find you something that works.
We appreciate the importance of intervention in the prevention of disease, and we tailor our services to find you the perfect medical intervention so you can reach your health goals.
Health doesn’t have to cost the earth and we go above and beyond to fit the service and care you receive within your budget, ensuring your expectations are satisfied. Everyone deserves a happy and healthy body, and we do what we can to help you get healthier.