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What is Bariatrics?

By Jacob Queen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Bariatrics is a term used to describe medical practices related to treating obesity. A doctor who specializes in bariatrics may be a surgeon who performs various obesity-related operations, or he may prescribe medications that promote weight loss. Bariatrics doctors are also usually well-versed in the subject of dieting, and they may put patients on diets or exercise programs.

According to experts, most traditional weight-loss approaches tend to fail. This may be because the approaches are generally ineffective, or it may be because people have trouble with self-discipline. There are also some people who suffer with physical problems like thyroid disease, which keep them from succeeding on a diet. In these cases, bariatrics medicine may be one of the only options available.

Sometimes supervision from a bariatrics physician can allow diet programs to work better than they would normally. In many cases, the doctors may provide patients with a more effective diet or give them better advice on how to follow the diet. There is also a certain motivational factor when people have to visit a doctor for regular weigh-ins, and this may help people stick to their diets more easily.

When traditional approaches fail to work, a bariatrics doctor will usually try medicines as a second option. There are several weight-loss medications that work in different ways. Some simply keep people from getting hungry, and this can often be the most effective way to control food intake. Others work by blocking certain nutrients and increasing metabolism. Many of the medicines used in weight-loss programs have a variety of side effects, especially for people with cardiac or blood pressure problems.

Sometimes bariatrics physicians decide to try surgery as a way of controlling someone’s weight. Unlike dieting, surgery can work regardless of the individuals self-discipline, and usually it will work even if people have medical issues that make weight loss difficult. Most surgical methods either reduce stomach size or change the intestine to limit the absorption of nutrients.

Bariatrics surgeries have some side effects that sometimes make physicians hesitant to use them. Once people lose the weight, they may actually have trouble getting enough nutrients and may eventually even suffer from malnutrition. Other people have severe digestive problems and may suffer from nausea on a regular basis. The surgeries themselves can also be somewhat dangerous, and there are quite a few surgical complications that can occur.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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