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What is bariatric surgery?

Lap-Band placed on a replica stomach

Bariatric surgery refers to weight-loss surgery. Bariatric surgery can help obese adults and adolescents achieve significant weight loss. Weight loss can lower the risk of heart disease and resolve and improve  diseases associated with obesity. This includes type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Bariatric surgery requires a lifelong commitment to healthy dietary and exercise habits, vitamin supplementation, and regular follow-up care.  

Bariatric surgery can be a life-saving treatment for people whose obesity seriously threatens their health. Bariatric surgery is used for people who have not lost weight through diet, exercise, counseling, and medication.

Bariatric surgery is only one part of a complex obesity treatment plan. Less invasive treatment options that have less risk of complications are available to help you lose weight. Consider getting a second opinion about your treatment choices before having bariatric surgery. 

Types of bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgeries incorporate one or two general techniques that work in different ways to reduce your calorie intake. These include:

  • Restrictive procedures reduce the size of the stomach. This limits the amount of food you can eat. Restrictive procedures include adjustable gastric banding (Lap-Band), vertical sleeve gastrectomy (stomach stapling), and vertical banded gastroplasty (stomach stapling and banding).

  • Malabsorptive/restrictive procedures (gastric bypass) alter the normal digestion process. The stomach is stapled down to a small pouch (typically the size of a small test tube). It is then attached to the middle of the small intestine. This allows food to bypass most or all of the first section of the small intestine (the duodenum). It reduces the amount of calories and nutrients absorbed into the body. Procedures include the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) and the biliopancreatic diversion with a duodenal switch (BPD-DS). This technique combines the restrictive and malabsorptive procedures to increase weight loss success.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Aug 29, 2016

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Medical References

  1. Bariatric Surgery. The Journal of the American Medical Association.
  2. Bariatric Surgery - Following Doctor's Orders Results In 35% More Weight Loss. Medical News Today.
  3. Bariatric Surgery for Severe Obesity. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases (NIDDK).
  4. Benefits of Bariatric Surgery. American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery.
  5. Pile, JC. Evaluating postoperative fever: A focused approach. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2006;73 (Suppl 1):S62.
  6. Poirier P, et al. Bariatric Surgery and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011; 123: 1683-1701.
  7. Weight Loss Surgery.

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