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Weight-loss surgery: an overview


Weight-loss surgery can help you lose weight. It can also lower your risk of developing some medical problems, and may improve some of the medical problems you now have. It can improve your quality of life, and allow you to live longer. After any weight-loss surgery, you will:

  • Have a smaller stomach
  • Feel full or satisfied with less food
  • Not be able to eat as much as before

This handout describes 4 types of weight-loss surgery.

These surgeries are almost always done through 5 to 6 small cuts in your belly. A camera is placed in your belly to allow the surgeon to see. This type of surgery is called laparoscopy. The 4 types of weight-loss surgery are:

Vertical sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve). During vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery the surgeon removes a large portion of your stomach. There is no re-routing or operation on the intestine. You could lose from 50 to 80 pounds (22 to 36 kg).

Gastric bypass. During gastric bypass surgery, your stomach is divided with staples into two parts. The first upper part is very small, about the size of a golf ball. This small stomach is called the gastric pouch. The second lower part of the stomach is much bigger, but food cannot go into it.

The small intestine is connected to the small upper pouch, which re-routes food around the big stomach. The pouch can only hold a small amount of food, so if you eat too much or too fast you will throw up or have chest pain. You could lose about 100 pounds (45 kg)

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAP-BAND). During laparoscopic gastric banding surgery the surgeon places a band around the upper part of your stomach to create a small pouch to hold food. After surgery, your doctor can adjust the band to make food pass more slowly into the lower stomach. Tubing from the band is connected to a port which is implanted onto the front of your abdomen, under the skin. Your doctor will need to place a needle into your belly in order to adjust the band.

Biliopancreatic diversion with a duodenal switch (BPD). This surgery is more complex than other weight-loss surgeries and is done much less often. The surgeon first removes a large portion of your stomach by doing a sleeve gastrectomy. After that, the intestine is re-routed so food does not pass through most of your small intestine. As a result, your body will not absorb all the calories from the food you eat. Sometimes this surgery can be done in two stages. First the sleeve gastrectomy is done. After you have lost some weight, the surgery on the small intestine is done. You could lose over 150 pounds (68 kg)

Your doctor will talk with you about your options and the type of surgery that is best for you.

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Review Date: 1/30/2018

Reviewed By: John E. Meilahn, MD, Bariatric Surgery, Chestnut Hill Surgical Associates, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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