Bariatric surgery in Anchorage, Alaska
Alaska Regional Hospital offers a comprehensive bariatric surgery program that ensures the highest level of safety and support throughout your weight loss journey. Our board-certified bariatric surgeons are dedicated to treating morbid and severe obesity, having performed over 6,000 laparoscopic weight loss procedures over the course of their 58 years of combined experience.
For more information about our bariatric surgery services, or to find out if you are an ideal candidate for weight loss surgery, call our 24/7 Consult-A-Nurse® line.
Are you a candidate for weight loss surgery?
You must be 18 years of age or older to qualify for weight loss surgery. Other qualifications for surgery include:
- Having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40
- Having a BMI greater than 35, with one or more serious obesity-related health conditions
- Not being able to achieve a healthy body weight for a long period of time, even with medical weight loss intervention
Obesity is a disease that affects almost 93 million American adults. Obesity is commonly measured using the body mass index, a metric calculated using height and weight. As your BMI increases, so does the risk for disease and death.
There are numerous causes of obesity. These include:
- Hormone resistance, specifically to leptin and ghrelin
- Learned behaviors
For some patients suffering from obesity, diet and exercise programs alone are not enough to provide long-term relief. This is where weight loss surgery can become most beneficial.
However, it is important to remember that weight loss surgery should not be considered a cure-all solution. While it can be effective in getting patients on the right track, keeping a consistent, postoperative diet and exercise weight loss program is something patients must work at their entire lives.Find out if you are a candidate for weight loss surgery
Benefits of bariatric surgery
According to recent studies, the risk of an early death is twice as likely for an obese person than a non-obese person. Morbid obesity can cause life-threatening health problems. These include diabetes, heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. As such, bariatric surgery can help decrease the chances of developing these and other conditions, including sleep apnea and arthritis. With appropriate treatment, good health and a longer, higher quality life are much more likely.
Meet Daniel. Not long ago, he had Type II Diabetes and weighed over 350 lbs. His joints hurt and he was always exhausted. In his mid-40s, he did not think he would live to see 50.
Bariatric procedures we perform
All surgeries and medical procedures carry risk, so to understand the best option for you, it is important to talk to your doctor, fellow weight loss patients and your loved ones. Our advanced surgical team offers numerous treatment options to meet your specific needs, including the following:
Adjustable gastric band or lap band
An adjustable gastric band involves an inflatable band that is affixed around the upper portion of the stomach. This creates a small stomach pouch above the band, moving the rest of the stomach below it.
Food is still digested normally, but a smaller stomach pouch allows for smaller amounts of food to satisfy hunger and promote a feeling of fullness. Reducing hunger leads to less eating, which lowers your caloric intake and helps keeps weight off.
This feeling of fullness will depend upon the size of the opening created by the gastric band between the pouch and the remainder of the stomach. The size of the opening can be adjusted and/or reduced gradually over time via repeated adjustments, or “fills," where the band is filled with sterile saline through a port placed under the skin.
The duodenal switch is one of the most powerful and long-lasting weight loss surgeries available. The procedure combines a sleeve gastrectomy and intestinal bypass, though in the case of particularly obese patients, these two parts of the procedure can be performed up to 12 months apart.
During the procedure, a surgeon permanently removes about 60 to 70 percent of the stomach, making it about the size and shape of a banana. The lower intestine is then divided by two-thirds or more, starting at the duodenum, leaving only a few feet where food and digestive enzymes meet. This allows the duodenum to attach to the ileum, the lowest part of the small intestine.
By bypassing the part of the small intestine where food and digestive enzymes meet, this procedure promotes weight loss primarily through malabsorption. Because of this, patients will need to schedule frequent checkups to ensure optimal vitamin and protein levels, as they are likely to experience increased flatulence and more frequent, looser bowel movements.
Otherwise known as the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, this is the most common and successful type of weight loss surgery, and is considered the gold standard.
During the procedure, a small stomach pouch is created to restrict food intake. Next, a Y-shaped section of the small intestine is attached to the pouch to allow food to bypass the lower stomach, the duodenum and the jejunum, the portion of the small intestine between the duodenum and the ileum. Doing so reduces the amount of calories and nutrients the body absorbs, and is both non-reversible and non-adjustable.
On average, over half of gastric bypass patients lose 70 percent or more of their extra weight and maintain that weight loss. Gastric bypass patients may also see an improvement in conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. However, as with every other bariatric procedure, long term success from gastric bypass surgery is reliant on a diet and exercise program.
A sleeve gastrectomy removes approximately 85 percent of the stomach, changing it to the shape of a banana. Stomach function is still preserved, as are the outlet valve and nerves to the stomach, even though the stomach is drastically reduced in size.
The sleeve gastrectomy results in fewer restrictions on the foods that patients can consume after surgery, although the quantity of food eaten is still considerably reduced. Being able to perform the procedure laparoscopically, or, through small incisions, helps speed up recovery times.
For obese patients with a relatively low BMI, a sleeve gastrectomy may be their best option, especially where existing conditions like anemia or Crohn's disease prevent other types of surgery. For patients that do not lose enough weight following this procedure, or who experience a significant regaining of weight, they may need to speak with their doctor about a duodenum switch.