Bariatric Surgery

Weight loss surgery is bariatric surgery.  Most bariatric surgeries are performed on patients who have underlying conditions or who are obese. Stomach size is reduced either via a gastric band or through elimination of part of the stomach or stomach attachment to different areas of the intestine. Weight loss surgery means undergoing gastric bypass surgery or resecting and re-routing the small intestines to a small stomach pouch.

These procedures do contribute to long-term weight loss, insulin dependence reduction, or improvement for cardiovascular diseases. The mortality of a patient undergoing bariatric surgery can be raised to almost 40%. Basically you might live a longer life with weight reduction surgery.

Bariatric surgery is recommended for those who have a body mass index or BMI of at least 40 and with serious medical condition (diabetes or heart disease). The medical community recommends bariatric surgery as a last resort if diet and exercise fail to meet the requirements of weight loss. There are long-term side effects to bariatric surgery. These include the possibility of malnutrition and gallbladder disease.

Types of Bariatric Surgeries  

Restrictive procedures are known as gastric stapling, stomach stapling or stomach banding. These procedures reduce the size of your stomach to limit the amount of food ingested.

  • Adjustable gastric banding or ABG involves attaching an inflatable band around the top portion of the stomach. The belt is tightened to form a very small pouch which becomes the new stomach. Your doctor can adjust the size of your band by adding or removing saline.  
  • Malabsorptive procedures or gastric bypasses involve attaching the stomach to the small intestine. These procedures divert good past the first section of the duodenum or small intestine. This is the part of the intestine where most calories are absorbed by the body.  

Bariatric surgeries are either open or the intestines and stomach accessed by a large incision in the abdomen or laparoscopy where surgical instruments are directed into the abdomen through small incisions. Options for either type of surgery include adjustable gastric banding, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, biliopancreqtic diversion, or vertical sleeve gastrectomy.

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass reduces stomach size and is one of the most common forms of bariatric surgery.   It is preferred for obese people who weight more than 400 pounds. The segment of the intestine that carries digestive juices is directly attached to the food-carrying intestine closest to the large intestine. This restricts calorie absorption.

Biliopancreatic diversion is quite similar to the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. It does keep many stomach functions intact but bypasses most of the intestines.

Sleeve gastrectomy surgically removes the left side of the stomach. You now have a much smaller stomach roughly the size and shape of a banana.

There are huge benefits to bariatric surgery. Weight loss, longer life, some diseases alleviated and an increased quality of life. Bariatric surgery, however, does have complications. Pre-surgical preparation and post-surgical follow ups are highly important to the well-being of the patient. Before surgery a patient meets with an endocrinologist who specializes in nutrition, a psychologist who lists behavior modification as a part of their resume, and a registered dietitian.   A comprehensive and specific medical weight management plan is set up and this is depended on cognitive behavioral therapy.   A patient cannot have bariatric surgery and continue eating and drinking as if nothing has happened.


Bariatric surgery carries the same complications as most surgeries. Laparoscopic procedures have the lowest complication rates. Open surgery patients can experience respiratory compilations, pulmonary insufficiency, hemorrhage, gastrointestinal complications and operation lacerations. Mortality rates are rare.


The obesity body mass index or a plus minus 30 kg/m2 is at 33 percent of the population. This rate is expected to rise to almost 50 percent over the next several years. Weight loss programs, strange new diets, new diet medications, exercise and the prevalence of exercise programs are just not getting the job done.

Bariatric surgery is the most effective means of long-term weight management today. Having medically complicated obesity surgery may be the best way to improve statistics.

Sleeve gastrectomy, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and duodenal switch or biliopancreatic diversions are excellent surgical options. Obese patients can also be recommended for the laparoscopic gastric band. This procedure, however, has a very low percentage of success and is no longer offered as an option at many major weight loss hospitals and clinics.

Bariatric surgery is not the “end all”  for obesity. It is only a part of a comprehensive obesity treatment plan including a healthy diet and exercise regimen. You will also need vitamin supplementation and regular medical care. Bariatric surgery is major surgery and the risk for infection, bleeding and blood clots is high. However if you are a man who is at least 100 pounds overweight or a woman who is 80 pounds too heavy, bariatric surgery may be the right solution.


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