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Bariatric Surgery

Understanding Bariatric Surgery: An Overview for New Patients

November 19, 20236 min read

Bariatric Surgery refers to a series of weight-loss procedures performed on people who are obese or severely overweight. These surgeries involve making changes to the digestive system, either by reducing the size of the stomach, removing a portion of the digestive tract, or altering the way calories and nutrients are absorbed. Common types of bariatric surgery include gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and adjustable gastric banding. The primary aim of these surgeries is to help patients lose excess weight and improve their overall health.

Importance of Bariatric Surgery in Weight Loss and Health Improvement:

  1. Effective Weight Loss: Bariatric surgery is often more effective than traditional weight loss methods for individuals with severe obesity. It can result in significant and long-lasting weight loss, especially when combined with lifestyle changes.

  2. Improvement in Obesity-Related Conditions: The surgery can lead to an improvement or even resolution of obesity-related health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, reflux, fatty liver disease, and even reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer.

  3. Enhanced Quality of Life: Patients often experience an improvement in their overall quality of life post-surgery. This includes better mobility, self-esteem, social interactions, and a decrease in depression and anxiety levels.

  4. Increased Life Expectancy: By mitigating the risks associated with obesity and its related health conditions, bariatric surgery can lead to an increase in life expectancy.

  5. Cost-Effectiveness: In the long run, the surgery can be cost-effective for patients. Unlike weight loss medications, it does not require continued lifelong medication treatment to achieve sustained weight loss. Surgery reduces the need for ongoing treatment of obesity-related health issues and often reduces or eliminates the need for several medications to control issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and improves the patient's ability to engage in work and social activities.

  6. Physical Activity and Mobility: Weight loss resulting from the surgery often makes physical activity easier and less painful, encouraging a healthier and more active lifestyle.

  7. Psychological Benefits: The surgery can lead to significant psychological benefits, as patients often feel a sense of achievement and gain confidence with the visible improvements in their health and appearance.

Historical Background of Bariatric Surgery And The Role of Bariatric Surgery in Modern Medicine

Bariatric surgery, which originated in the 1950s and 1960s, has evolved significantly from its early experimental stages. Initially focused on procedures like the jejunoileal bypass, which had severe complications, the field advanced significantly with the development of the gastric bypass technique by Dr. Edward E. Mason in the 1960s. This method proved safer and more effective, creating a small stomach pouch and rerouting the small intestine to this pouch.

The 1990s marked a major advancement with the introduction of laparoscopic, or minimally invasive, techniques. This innovation reduced complication risks and recovery time, making the surgeries more accessible. The introduction of robotic surgery further increased the safety and reproducibility of surgery. Over time, the field diversified with various procedures like sleeve gastrectomy and adjustable gastric banding, tailored to individual patient needs.

In modern medicine, bariatric surgery is a crucial treatment for severe obesity, particularly when other methods fail. It not only facilitates significant weight loss but also improves or resolves various obesity-related health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension. It plays a preventive role in public health by reducing the risk of developing obesity-related illnesses. It also can significantly increase the quality of life of patients as well as lengthen their life expectancy. Bariatric surgery is now part of an integrative approach to obesity management, often combined with nutritional counseling, psychological support, and physical activity. Continuous research in this field aims to further refine surgical techniques and understand the long-term impacts on health and well-being.

Bariatric Surgery


Different Types of Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgery includes several different types, each designed to help with weight loss in different ways. The most common types are:

Gastric Bypass (Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass): The oldest surgery for obesity still used and a very effective procedure for weight loss and resolution of weight related medical problems. The procedure involves creating a small pouch at the top of the stomach and connecting it to the small intestine, bypassing a large part of the stomach and a segment of the small intestine. This reduces the amount of food you can eat and the calories your body absorbs.

Sleeve Gastrectomy: This is the most common weight loss surgery performed in the United States today. In this procedure, about 80% of the stomach is removed, leaving a tube-shaped stomach about the size and shape of a banana. This limits the amount of food that can be eaten and decreases the production of the hunger hormone, ghrelin.

Adjustable Gastric Band (Lap-Band): This involves placing a band around the upper part of the stomach to create a small pouch that can hold only a small amount of food. The band's tightness can be adjusted for a customized rate of weight loss. This is performed much less than in the early 2000’s due to better weight loss with other procedures and fewer complications.

Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (BPD/DS): This is a more complex procedure that removes a large part of the stomach and bypasses a significant portion of the small intestine. It significantly reduces food intake and the body's ability to absorb nutrients and calories. It is usually reserved for special cases where extreme weight loss is required due to increased risk of side effects and complications.

Vertical Banded Gastroplasty (VBG): This older form of weight-loss surgery involves stapling the stomach and fitting a band around the stapled area. It is no longer performed today due to the development of more effective procedures.

Bariatric surgery involves a multi-stage process, starting with thorough pre-surgery preparations and followed by the surgical procedure itself.

Pre-Surgery Preparations:

  1. Initial Consultation: Discussion of weight loss goals, health history, and surgical options.

  2. Medical Evaluation: Comprehensive health assessment including blood tests and diagnostic tests.

  3. Nutritional and Psychological Assessment: Evaluations to understand dietary habits and mental readiness for post-surgery lifestyle changes.

  4. Education: Information on the surgical process, risks, and required lifestyle changes.

  5. Weight Loss Program: Some patients may need to lose weight before the surgery.

  6. Pre-Operative Tests: Additional tests like endoscopy or ultrasound as needed.


Surgical Process:

  1. Preoperative Preparation: Includes a specialized diet to help prepare for surgery.

  2. Admission and Preparation: Includes fasting and pre-operative procedures.

  3. Anesthesia: General anesthesia is administered.

  4. The Procedure: Varies by surgery type. These are usually performed using robotic or laparoscopic techniques. Surgical times will vary depending on the type of procedure, surgeon experience, and if any other procedures are to be included such as hiatal hernia repair or removal of the gallbladder.

  5. Closure of Incisions: Incisions are closed post-surgery.

  6. Post-Operative Care: Monitoring and management of pain in the recovery area.

  7. Hospital Stay: Duration depends on the surgery type and patient health.

  8. Follow-Up: Regular appointments to monitor recovery and weight loss.

This process demands a commitment to long-term lifestyle changes for optimal health benefits and successful weight loss outcomes. Patients are expected to maintain regular follow-up and adhere to dietary and exercise recommendations post-surgery.


Bariatric SurgeryWeight Loss SurgeryGastric BypassSleeve GastrectomyAdjustable Gastric BandingObesity TreatmentLaparoscopic SurgeryWeight Loss ProceduresHealth Improvement SurgerySevere Obesity Solutions
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