Weight Loss Surgery
If you have tried, but can’t seem to lose the excess weight that’s causing you health problems, weight loss surgery may be right for you. UNC Medical Center offers multiple procedures, and our physicians –recognized as national leaders in bariatric surgery – will work closely with you to determine which one meets your health needs.
Is Weight Loss Surgery Right for Me?
It is always safest to lose weight by making lifestyle changes such as developing healthy eating habits and getting regular physical activity. For those who have tried but cannot lose the excess weight that is causing health problems, weight-loss surgery—also called bariatric surgery—may be appropriate.
Criteria for weight loss surgery include:
- Body Mass Index (BMI) greater or equal to 35 kg/m², with one or more significant obesity-related conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, and arthritis, OR
- BMI greater than 40 kg/m², regardless of other medical conditions. Calculate your BMI.
- History of multiple failed weight-loss attempts by dieting, exercise, and medical therapies, as documented by your physician.
- 18 to 65 years of age (with some exceptions).
- Understanding the procedure and implications, and accepting the operative risks.
- Having realistic expectations and motivation.
- Committing to lifelong maintenance programs for diet, vitamin supplementation, exercise, and follow-up with your healthcare team.
We base our criteria off of recommendations from the National Institutes of Health.
Taking the First Steps
If you or someone you know may benefit from weight loss surgery, we invite you to attend our monthly weight loss surgery informational seminars. They are typically held on the second Tuesday of each month at the Wellness Center at Meadowmont. A full schedule can be found here.
At UNC Medical Center, we offer multiple weight loss surgery procedures, including:
Adjustable Gastric Banding
Works by creating a small stomach pouch to limit the amount of food one can eat. A smaller stomach pouch fills quickly, which helps individuals feel satisfied with less food.
Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery
Uses a combination of restriction and malabsorption. A small stomach pouch is surgically created to restrict food intake. In addition, decreased absorption of calories is induced by creation of a "bypass," which allows food to skip parts of the small intestine. In malabsorptive operations such as this, the body cannot absorb as many calories or nutrients.
Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy
This is a restrictive procedure. The amount of food you can eat after surgery is restricted because a thin tube, or “sleeve” will be created from your natural stomach opening to the natural stomach outlet along the smaller curvature of the stomach. The larger stomach portion along the outer curvature will be removed. Your current stomach size is the size of a football however, after vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery the new stomach will be about the size of a banana. The amount of food you can eat will be greatly reduced which helps to achieve significant weight loss.
Preparing for Surgery
We understand that the day of your procedure can be both exciting and stressful, we recommend that you follow these guidelines to prepare.
It is well established that obesity contributes to a wide range of health problems. Studies have shown that weight loss surgery can improve and resolve many of these issues, including:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High Cholesterol
- Sleep Apnea
A clinical study shows that gastric bypass surgery reduces mortality in patients with severe obesity by 89 percent over 5 years.
In addition, after weight loss surgery, patients consistently report:
- A decrease in depression and anxiety
- Improved self-esteem
- An overall increase in quality of life
While weight-loss surgery has many benefits, it also carries certain risks.
Deciding to accept risk for the purpose of improving one’s health is a big decision that requires face-to-face discussions between patients and physicians. Although the risks of untreated obesity generally are greater than the risks of surgery, patients need to have full information about the possibility of complications before making a final decision to go ahead.
Therefore, every weight-loss surgery candidate will have a minimum of two individual appointments with a surgeon and nurse practitioner to gather the information about risks and benefits for the available procedures, so the best personal choices can be made.