Q. Is surgery a good solution for losing weight?

A. Weight-loss surgery is an effective and fairly fast means of returning to a healthy body weight.

However, this surgery is recommended only for individuals that have unsuccessfully tried to lose weight over a long period or who have serious health problems where weight loss could positively impact their health status.

Generally, this surgery is recommended as an option if you are 100 or more pounds overweight and/or have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher.

If your BMI is 35 to 40 and you have serious weight-related health problems, you may also be considered a good candidate.

Q. How does weight-loss surgery work?

A. There are several types of weight-loss surgeries collectively referred to as bariatric surgery.

Essentially, they all result in changes to your digestive system that help you lose weight by limiting how much you can eat and/or by reducing the absorption of calories.

Q. Which type of weight-loss surgery is the best?

A. Each procedure differs and has certain advantages. If the procedure can be done laparoscopically, that is always preferable because recovery will be faster and shorter.

Briefly, the Roux-en-Y, or gastric bypass surgery, technique limits your food intake and the absorption of calories as well as nutrients. Most patients lose 50 to 80 percent of excess weight in about one year and many maintain more than 80 percent of that weight loss for more than 10 years. With the lap-banding technique, patients feel full faster so they eat less.

This results in approximately a 47 percent loss of excess weight. This surgical procedure is reversible and the surgeon can adjust the band to increase weight loss. Sleeve gastrectomy, the newest type of weight-loss surgery, results in weight loss through restriction. The intestine isn’t bypassed, which reduces the possibility of vitamin and protein deficiencies. The procedure is technically easier than a bypass; however, about one third of patients experience inadequate weight loss and have a second procedure.

Q. Are there complications?

A. All forms of weight-loss surgery are major procedures with potential serious risks and side effects. Risks associated with any type of major surgery include excessive bleeding, infection, blood clots, breathing problems, reactions to anesthesia and possible death, although rarely. There are some additional risks directly associated with weight-loss surgeries.

Q. What else should I know?

A. Weight-loss surgery is not a cure-all that requires no commitment on your part. To succeed long-term, you will need to make permanent diet changes and exercise regularly. Surgery is expensive. Check to see if your policy covers this surgery and what the requirements are.

If you think you want to proceed, make an appointment with a bariatric clinic to be evaluated and to learn more about which procedure is the best choice for you.

Dr. Kashif Zuberi is a board certified surgeon at Sanford Bemidji. He specializes in bariatric surgery, advanced minimally invasive gastrointestinal surgery and surgical endoscopy. Zuberi completed his medical degree at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland and internship at the Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and went on to complete two residencies, one at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Medical Institutions in Baltimore and a second at Marshfield Clinic/St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield, WI. Most recently, Zuberi completed two fellowships at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus and at Johns Hopkins.