Bariatric surgery is a treatment option for people living with morbid obesity—especially for those who have not experienced long-term weight loss success through other means. Often referred to as weight loss surgery, bariatric surgery has transformed the health and lives of more than 800,000 people in the past six years.
How Does Bariatric Surgery Work?
Bariatric surgery is the clinical term for several different procedures. The procedures use one or both of two approaches to help patients lose weight and improve or resolve co-morbid conditions.
- Restrictive Procedures:During these procedures, the surgeon creates a small stomach pouch, that limits the amount of food patients can eat. The smaller stomach pouch fills quickly, which helps patients feel satisfied with less food.Examples of restrictive procedures: Gastric banding, Sleeve gastrectomy.
- Malabsorptive Procedures: During these procedures, the surgeon reroutes the small intestine so that food skips a portion of it. The small intestine absorbs calories and nutrients from food, and avoiding part of it means that many calories and nutrients are not absorbed. Surgeons rarely perform strictly malabsorptive procedures. Most procedures that use malabsorption also use restriction.
- Combination Procedures:Certain procedures use both restriction and malabsorption. For example, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery uses a combination of restriction and malabsorption. During the procedure, the surgeon creates a small pouch. The surgeon then attaches a Y-shaped section of the small intestine directly to the stomach pouch. This allows food to bypass a large portion of the small intestine, which absorbs calories and nutrients. The smaller stomach pouch causes patients to feel fuller sooner and eat less food; bypassing a portion of the small intestine means the patient’s body absorbs fewer calories.Examples of combination procedures: Gastric bypass, Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch.
These different methods work to help patients lose excess weight, lower their BMI, and transform their health by resolving or improving co-morbid conditions. Bariatric surgery has many benefits that can lead to a healthier, higher quality of life. It also has certain risks.