We sat down with Dr Cha Kar Huei, Consultant General Surgeon at Subang Jaya Medical Centre, to find out more about bariatric and metabolic surgery and how it is different from the more popular gastric bypass surgery for weight loss and better health.
Are there any complications or side effects to the surgery? What should a patient do after going through one? E.g. Do they need to eat more healthfully or exercise more? What if they don’t do what is required?
Elective bariatric surgery is actually safer than an emergency gallbladder surgery. This is because the patient and surgeon are able to prepare fully beforehand. Surgery is also usually done in appropriate centres with good support staff. Of course, any surgery will have some kind of risk, the most common being bleeding and infections. Leakage of the stapler line or bypass connections can be life threatening but is fixable. The risk of dying from the surgery is about 0.5% worldwide.
What is more important for the patient is what to do after surgery. There is no easy way out for patients. In the initial post-surgery period, they will be limited to a liquid diet for two weeks, and soft diet for another two weeks. Patients will be allowed to eat solid food after a month. Even after one month, they can’t eat that much, so the diet change is necessary.
Hair loss can happen due to high protein loss, but luckily it stops after 6 to 9 months. Relationships can be tricky if the partners are not supportive or not understanding the difficulty in eating after surgery. For patients who experiences this, they can attend support groups after surgery, where patients help each other with similar experience. Following surgery, the changes are not just physical, but also emotional, affects the patient’s attitude, and they might need to project a different image. Thus, it’s good to have a supportive partner or other supportive family members.