If you’ve struggled to lose weight, you’re probably considering one of several popular procedures like lap band surgery or liposuction. While both common procedures can result in weight loss, they are very different in terms of purpose and long-term results.
What is Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric surgery is any type of procedure performed on the intestines or stomach to induce weight loss. Most bariatric procedures are minimally invasive and include gastric sleeve, gastric balloon, and lap band surgery. Bariatric surgery is usually an option for people who are obese and have no managed weight loss with other methods like exercise and dieting. The Lap Band System is a branded form of bariatric surgery that is performed laparoscopically through a few tiny incisions in the abdomen.
The most common type of bariatric surgery is gastric banding, which works to restrict a patient’s food intake to encourage weight loss. Gastric bypass works in two ways: it restricts the size of the stomach to physically restrict food intake and it bypasses the small intestine to reduce the amount of calories and nutrients that are absorbed. The surgery also causes changes in digestion hormones to suppress hunger.
The long-term outcomes of gastric banding have been studied extensively. According to a recent 15-year follow-up study published in the Annals of Surgery, patients maintained durable weight loss of more than 50% after fifteen years, regardless of procedure type.
What is Liposuction?
Liposuction is not weight loss surgery; it is a cosmetic procedure for people who are within 20-30% of their ideal weight who want to address specific problem areas such as the stomach, thighs, or hips. There are many forms of liposuction, but the procedure basically involves removing adipose tissue (fat) through an incision.
Liposuction is not designed to produce long-term health benefits. According to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, fat removed through liposuction eventually returns within 12 months but it is redistributed to other areas. For example, someone who has fat removed from the stomach area may find the fat return later to the upper arms. Fat that returns is usually redistributed around the shoulders, upper abdomen, and triceps, according to a study published in the journal Obesity.
What’s the Difference?
Lipo is a cosmetic procedure that’s designed to fine-tune your appearance and remove small, stubborn pockets of body fat while a procedure like a gastric sleeve or gastric balloon is meant to address the cause of weight gain and help you achieve long-term weight loss. If you’re close to your ideal weight, liposuction may be a good option for specific body sculpting goals. If you have a BMI of 30 or greater, weight loss surgery is more likely to help you achieve significant weight loss that lasts.