Weight loss surgery in Virginia

Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is not a cosmetic procedure. It's an educated surgical decision to improve your health and lifespan. HCA Virginia offers this surgery as a treatment for obese patients who are dedicated to getting healthier but need an alternative to medication and lifestyle changes to improve their overall health. Here, our patients see their lives transformed, with marked improvements in their health and quality of life.

For more information about our bariatric services or for help finding a bariatric surgeon, call our free, 24/7 Consult-A-Nurse® line.

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery is the general term for a variety of weight loss surgical procedures. These procedures are tools, not cures, to help treat weight-related health problems. In other words, weight loss surgery is intended not only to decrease your weight but also to improve your overall health. To do this, the transformative journey requires work and commitment. A comprehensive program, such as the ones we provide, should include nutritional counseling, support and a follow-up plan to best accomplish weight loss after surgery.

What are the benefits of bariatric surgery?

Obesity, by definition, means your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or greater, which usually means you are 100 pounds or more over a healthy body weight. Morbid obesity is defined as having a BMI of 40 or greater.

As one of the leading causes of preventable death in the U.S., obesity poses a major public health challenge. Excess weight substantially increases the risk of developing one or more conditions, such as:

Bariatric surgery can help prevent or reduce the impact of these conditions. It saves lives and continues to benefit people struggling with morbid obesity worldwide.

What are the risks of bariatric surgery?

All surgeries and medical procedures carry risk. Bariatric surgery should not be considered until you and your doctor have evaluated all options. It's important to talk to your doctor, and even other weight loss surgery patients, to best understand the benefits and risks for your individual situation.

Who is eligible for bariatric surgery?

You may qualify for one of our bariatric surgery programs if you:

  • Are 18 years old or older
  • Have a BMI greater than 40 (known as "morbid obesity")
  • Have a BMI greater than 35 and have one or more serious health conditions related to morbid obesity
  • Are unable to achieve a healthy body weight for a sustained period of time, even with medical weight loss programs

Even if the criteria above are met, not everyone is a candidate for bariatric surgery, and the procedures do involve risks as well as commitments to significant lifestyle changes. To make an informed decision, educate yourself about the types, benefits and potential complications of the various bariatric surgery methods.

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What is the difference between bariatric surgery and nonsurgical weight loss?

Most nonsurgical weight loss programs are based on a combination of diet, behavior modification and regular exercise. Unfortunately, even the most effective of these types of interventions don't work for everyone.

In fact, generally only a small percentage of participants in nonsurgical weight loss programs will lose a significant amount of weight and maintain that loss for an extended period of time. Sustained weight loss for patients who are morbidly obese is even harder to achieve. Additionally, serious health risks have been identified for people who move from diet to diet, known as "yo-yo dieting," because this subjects their bodies to a severe cycle of weight loss and gain.

If this applies to you, it's worth talking to your doctor about bariatric surgery.

What types of bariatric procedures are there?

Most gastric procedures are malabsorptive, meaning they restrict both the food intake and the amount of calories and nutrients the body absorbs. Typically, this is accomplished by reducing the stomach's holding capacity from roughly 2 quarts to 2 ounces. When eating, this pouch fills quickly. Because you feel full sooner, you eat less.

We offer several common types of bariatric surgeries and nonsurgical weight loss procedures, including:

Adjustable gastric band

Gastric banding is a restrictive operation in which a band is placed around the outside of the upper stomach. By tightening or loosening the band, the rate that food travels from the upper to the lower stomach is controlled, and you are satisfied by smaller meals that fill the small upper pouch.

The adjustable gastric band is surgically implanted during a short, laparoscopic procedure. A port is placed under your skin, which allows saline to be added or removed to adjust the band after surgery. These fast and easy band adjustments take place at your surgeon’s office, clinic or hospital. Your first adjustment will probably be scheduled four to six weeks after your surgery.

Gastric bypass (Roux-en-Y)

The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the most common and successful type of malabsorptive surgery. First, a small stomach pouch is created to restrict the food intake. Next, a Y-shaped section of the small intestine is attached to the pouch to allow food to bypass the lower stomach, duodenum (first segment of the small intestine) and the first portion of the jejunum (second segment of the small intestine).

This bypass is both non-reversible and non-adjustable.

Vertical sleeve gastrectomy

The vertical sleeve gastrectomy, or gastric sleeve, is a restrictive form of weight loss surgery in which approximately 85 percent of the stomach is removed. This leaves a cylindrical or sleeve-shaped stomach, which is approximately the size of a banana. The gastric sleeve procedure does not involve any bypass or the intestinal tract and can be performed laparoscopically.

With this surgery, the stomach is drastically reduced in size but its function is preserved. This means the gastric sleeve results in fewer restrictions on foods patients can consume after surgery.

If you have a relatively low BMI, the vertical sleeve gastrectomy may be a good choice. This is especially true if you also have existing conditions, such as anemia or Crohn’s disease, which prevent you from having other forms of bariatric surgery.

Intragastric balloon

The intragastric balloon procedure includes a weight loss device, a "balloon," that occupies space in the stomach. The balloon is placed into the stomach through the mouth, using a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure, while you are under mild sedation. Once in place, the balloon is filled with salt water (saline) so it expands into a spherical shape. The balloon can be filled with different amounts of saline to best match your body structure.

The balloon system is temporary and will be removed after six months. Removal of the intragastric balloon takes around 20 to 30 minutes, similar to when it was inserted.

While the balloon is in place, you will meet regularly with our team to monitor your progress and receive education. This includes training about the nutrition and lifestyle changes you must follow to achieve long-term success. Your regular meetings with the support team will continue for six months after the intragastric balloon is removed.