Options and Risks of Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery can save lives, especially in patients who are severely overweight and have obesity-associated diseases. Surgical options are only reserved for individuals who meet the candidate policies for each bariatric surgeon.

Often times, your general physician won’t even refer you to a specialist until you have shown documented proof of trying to lose weight with traditional methods. Some physicians even want patients to have had at least two full years of trying to lose weight, but failing, before you see a specialist.

Getting past your general physician is only one step though. Your bariatric physician might not suggest weight loss surgery as an option for your obesity. Maybe you didn’t meet the necessary BMI requirements or you at too much risk for bariatric surgery. But if you are suffering from obesity and are at a higher risk for diseases or co-morbidities - your physician will likely suggest bariatric surgery.

Options and Risks of Weight Loss Surgery

There are multiple options for weight loss surgery with varying degrees of risk, intrusion and costs. The most common weight loss surgery of all is gastric banding surgery, or Lap-Band Surgery. Some weight loss surgeries are preformed more than others and some are recommend for different individuals.

Some weight loss surgeries are no longer being used because of adverse effects that these surgeries entail, for example the Jejunoileal bypass. We’ll be discussing the most common weight loss surgeries, the ones your physician will likely suggest.

Bariatric surgery falls into three main categories: restrictive weight loss surgery, malabsorptive weight loss surgery and a combination of both restrictive and malabsorptive elements.

Restrictive, are surgeries that involve restricting the stomach volume and result in slowing down digestion. This will limit caloric intake and, and thus weight loss occurs. Malabsorptive are surgeries that alter the digestive system and makes your stomach decrease the absorption of nutrients and calories.

Gastric Banding Surgery

Gastric Banding or Adjustable Gastric Banding is the most popular weight loss surgery method that places a surgical implant around the upper portion of the stomach. The band then restricts the flow of foods to the stomach thereby reducing caloric intake.

Key Points:

  • Reversible
  • Adjustable
  • Lower/Lowest Cost Option
  • Done Laparoscopically
  •  Is normally reserved for patients on the lower end of the obese scale

Risks of Gastric Banding Surgery

  • The access port may leak or twist, which may require reoperation
  • Nausia and vomiting
  • Outlet obstruction
  • Pouch dilation
  • Pouch migration or slippage

Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery

Gastric Sleeve Surgery involves permanently reducing the size of the stomach to restrict food flow. The new stomach is sometimes is 15% of the old size, and is shaped like a sleeve.

Key Points:

  • Irreversible - Lifetime Lifestyle Change
  • Growing in Popularity
  • More intensive than Gastric Banding

Gastric Bypass Surgery

RNY or Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass surgery involves both restrictive and malabsorptive proprieties. It starts by creating a small gastric pouch by staples and connects the small intestine to the new small stomach - thereby bypassing some of the intestines. This causes your body to reduce the nutrients it absorbs and thus you will reduce caloric intake.

Key Points:

  • Partially Reversible or Changeable to Other Surgery Types
  • Used on the Higher End of the Obese Scale
  • Second Most Popular Procedure (Considered “Gold Standard”)

Risks of Gastric Bypass Surgery

  • Poor absorption of iron and calcium
  • Metabolic bone disease
  • Chronic anemia
  • The bypassed portions of the stomach and duodenum, and parts of the small intestines cannot be seen easily using x-ray or endoscopy

Overall there are ten active surgeries being practiced in the United States today. But these are by far the most common surgeries. These are likely to be suggested as they have the most studies and research behind their efficacy.


1. "Types of Weight Loss Surgeries: Bariatric Surgery Options." Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico - Bariatric Surgery Options. ObesitySolutionsInternational. Web. 12 May 2011.
2. "Bariatric Surgery." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 12 May 2011.
3. "Weight Loss Surgery: MedlinePlus." National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. Web. 12 May 2011.

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