For the morbidly obese (BMI above 40), gastric bypass surgery is often the only way of losing weight, according to Prof Tessa van der Merwe, South African endocrinologist and obesity expert.
Van der Merwe recently spoke about this controversial weight-loss method at the South African Gastroenterology Congress in Port Elizabeth.
The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass reduces the size of the stomach to limit the amount of food it can take. This causes calorie wasting without threatening the patient's health.
With this operation, patients can lose 35-70% of their body weight in a year or two, depending on their starting weight.
Another method, the adjustable gastric band, restricts portion size and can be offered to patients with a BMI of above 30, who have failed numerous previous attempts at conservative weight loss.
With the gastric band, weight loss of 25% can be expected over 18 months.
But be warned: gastric bypass surgery can be a dangerous operation, and should only be performed by an experienced bariatric surgeon and only in extreme cases. – (Health24, August 2006)