For those who struggle to lose weight, a surgical solution may be necessary. Two procedures—liposuction and gastric bypass—have become quite popular in recent years, but they are very different operations with vastly differing goals. When it comes to the right solution for you, it’s important to compare these procedures’ purposes with your own weight loss objectives.
Liposuction Vs. Gastric Bypass
Liposuction and gastric bypass are both often regarded as weight loss procedures, but they actually have very different goals. Mainly, gastric bypass deals with the root cause of excess weight in patients who struggle with obesity, whereas liposuction is a cosmetic procedure.
What Is Liposuction?
Liposuction isn’t truly a weight loss procedure since it focuses more on sculpting and reshaping the body by targeting problem areas where fat accumulates. It involves the use of a hollow tube and a vacuum device to break down and remove pockets of fat from specific areas such as the abdomen, neck, buttocks, thighs, etc. The end result is an instantly leaner-looking physique.
What Is Gastric Bypass?
Gastric bypass and other weight loss surgeries, on the other hand, target your digestive system rather than excess fat. With Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, a section of the stomach is removed while the connection with the intestine is relocated to bypass the duodenum, which is a part of the small intestine that absorbs calories.
The end result is it takes less food to feel full while limiting absorption of fat, calories, etc. Certain foods become harder for the digestive system to tolerate as well, which can help support healthy dietary choices.
Liposuction Uses and Advantages
In 2020, over 200,000 liposuction procedures were performed in the United States, making it one of the five most popular cosmetic procedures performed in the nation. For those looking for a leaner figure, liposuction can provide instant results.
Uses of Liposuction
While the procedure does remove fat from the body, liposuction isn’t a solution to obesity. In fact, it’s usually used for people with a body mass index (BMI) below 30, which is the threshold for obesity. The purpose is not to lose large amounts of weight, but to remove excess bits of fat to reshape the body.
Advantages and Limitations of Liposuction
The main advantages of liposuction is it’s instant and involves minimally invasive techniques. However, it’s unlikely to result in massive weight loss—at most, you can expect to lose about 10 pounds of subcutaneous fat. Again, the purpose of liposuction is cosmetic, and it does little to support a healthy lifestyle.
Gastric Bypass Uses and Advantages
Unlike liposuction, which targets the fat, gastric bypass and other bariatric surgeries target some of the root causes of excess weight. These surgeries are designed to make the process of starting and maintaining a healthy diet easier for patients while maximizing the results of healthy eating.
Uses of Gastric Bypass
Gastric bypass is intended for people struggling with severe obesity who have been unable to lose weight through their own efforts. There are a number of requirements for gastric bypass, such as:
- A BMI over 40
- A BMI over 35 and comorbid conditions (diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, etc.)
- Over 100 pounds of excess weight
- A period of supervised weight loss attempts
In terms of how it’s used, gastric bypass surgery is designed to help your body lose weight by limiting calorie absorption and supporting smaller portion sizes, making it an effective companion to earnest weight loss efforts. It’s not a cure for obesity per se, but rather a tool to help you as you make important lifestyle changes.
Advantages and Limitations of Gastric Bypass
The results of gastric bypass surgery can be dramatic, with patients losing an average of 65% of their excess weight after surgery. Additionally, over 85% of those patients manage to keep about half of that off as well. When coupled with increased physical activity and dietary changes, gastric bypass can lead to massive weight loss at a rapid pace.
While the results of weight loss surgery may not be instant like liposuction, they can be far more substantial, and they’re typically more appropriate for those struggling with severe obesity.
Which Is Right for You?
Relatively minor cosmetic changes are the purview of liposuction, which isn’t appropriate for treating obesity. Gastric bypass, on the other hand, can be a life-changing procedure when supplemented with important lifestyle changes and professional support. In either case, it’s important to talk to a doctor such as Dr. Malladi to determine the best course forward.