There are a number of bariatric surgery procedures to help you lose weight and lower your risk of medical problems associated with obesity.
Weight-loss (bariatric) surgery contributes to weight loss in two main ways:
- Restriction. Surgery is used to physically limit the amount of food the stomach can hold, which limits the number of calories you can eat.
- Malabsorption. Surgery is used to shorten or bypass part of the small intestine, which reduces the amount of calories and nutrients the body absorbs.
The type of surgery that may be best to help a person lose weight depends on a number of factors. You should discuss with Dr. Alejandro Lopez what kind of surgery might be best for you or your teen.
Laparoscopic and Open Surgery
In open bariatric surgery, surgeons make a single, large cut in the abdomen. Open surgery may be a better option for certain people. If you have a high level of obesity, have had stomach surgery before, or have other complex medical problems, you may need open surgery.
More often, surgeons now use laparoscopic surgery, in which they make several small cuts and insert thin surgical tools through the cuts. Surgeons also insert a small scope attached to a camera that projects images onto a video monitor.
Laparoscopic surgery has fewer risks than open surgery and may cause less pain and scarring than open surgery. Laparoscopic surgery also may lead to a faster recovery.
Four common types of weight-loss surgery are:
- Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
- Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding
- Sleeve gastrectomy
- Duodenal switch with biliopancreatic diversion
Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
In Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, the surgeon creates a small pouch at the top of the stomach. The pouch is the only part of the stomach that receives food. This greatly limits the amount that you can comfortably eat and drink at one time.
The small intestine is then cut a short distance below the main stomach and connected to the new pouch. Food flows directly from the pouch into this part of the intestine. The main part of the stomach, however, continues to make digestive juices. The portion of the intestine still attached to the main stomach is reattached farther down. This allows the digestive juices to flow to the small intestine. Because food now bypasses a portion of the small intestine, fewer nutrients and calories are absorbed.
Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding
In the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding procedure, a band containing an inflatable balloon is placed around the upper part of the stomach and fixed in place. This creates a small stomach pouch above the band with a very narrow opening to the rest of the stomach.
A port is then placed under the skin of the abdomen. A tube connects the port to the band. By injecting or removing fluid through the port, the balloon can be inflated or deflated to adjust the size of the band. Gastric banding restricts the amount of food that your stomach can hold, so you feel full sooner, but it doesn’t reduce the absorption of calories and nutrients.
In a sleeve gastrectomy, part of the stomach is separated and removed from the body. The remaining section of the stomach is formed into a tubelike structure. This smaller stomach cannot hold as much food. It also produces less of the appetite-regulating hormone ghrelin, which may lessen your desire to eat. However, sleeve gastrectomy does not affect the absorption of calories and nutrients in the intestines.
Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch
As with sleeve gastrectomy, this procedure begins with the surgeon removing a large part of the stomach. The valve that releases food to the small intestine is left, along with the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum.
The surgeon then closes off the middle section of the intestine and attaches the last part directly to the duodenum. This is the duodenal switch.
The separated section of the intestine isn’t removed from the body. Instead, it’s reattached to the end of the intestine, allowing bile and pancreatic digestive juices to flow into this part of the intestine. This is the biliopancreatic diversion.
As a result of these changes, food bypasses most of the small intestine, limiting the absorption of calories and nutrients. This, together with the smaller size of the stomach, leads to weight loss.