The wins of weight loss surgery come in many forms. For starters, studies show that surgery can lead to the greatest and most sustained weight loss outcomes compared to non-surgical strategies.1
Beyond the scale, there are successes that can often be the most life-changing ones for patients who undergo weight loss surgery.
Sustained weight loss3
Lose your goal weight and keep it off for the long haul.
Alleviate or eliminate obesity-related diseases and boost your mental health.
Enhanced quality of life4,5
Get back to your favorite activities and try new ones.
Minimally invasive option
Most surgical weight loss procedures are minimally invasive – which means only small incisions are made in the abdomen.
Savings on health care costs6
Decrease your healthcare cost which may solve some of your obesity-related health issues.
Solution for Type 2 diabetes7
Keep Type 2 diabetes7 in better control with lower blood sugar levels and less medication. Or potentially reverse it.
Weight loss surgery increases your sense of fullness after eating.8 Depending on the type of weight loss surgery you choose, your weight loss is powered by different mechanisms that control appetite, alter hormones that regulate your metabolism, or change how food is absorbed.8 While there are multiple types of weight loss surgery, most use a minimally invasive technique in which only small incisions are made in the abdomen.2
What it is: This procedure involves surgery on the stomach but not the intestine. It transforms the stomach from a pouch (pre-surgery) into a long tube or “sleeve” (post-surgery).
How it works: It removes approximately two-thirds of the stomach to deliver a quicker sense of fullness and decreased appetite. The smaller stomach sleeve restricts food intake, allowing only a small amount of food to be consumed in a single sitting.
What it is: During this procedure, the surgeon converts the stomach into a small pouch which is about the size of an egg. The gastric bypass procedure then routes food past most of the stomach and first part of the small intestine. In addition to restricting food intake, a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass reduces nutrient absorption.
How it works: This surgery limits the amount of food that can be eaten yet leaves the patient feeling full and satisfied with very little food. Having less food naturally results in reduced caloric intake, and weight loss usually follows.
What it is: Also known as biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (BPD-DS) or gastric reduction duodenal switch (GRDS), this procedure removes part of the stomach and reroutes a portion of the small intestine.
How it works: Food empties directly into the duodenum, bypassing about three-fourths of the small intestine. By absorbing fewer calories and nutrients and altering hormones in the gut, it reduces hunger and increases sense of fullness.
What it is: This procedure uses an adjustable band placed at the top of the stomach to create a small pouch.
How it works: With its reduced size, this pouch provides a sense of fullness after a very small meal. The opening to the rest of the digestive tract is adjustable through an epidermal port.
Knowing if you’re the right fit for weight loss surgery depends on many factors.
As with any surgery, weight loss surgery has risks you should know about.9 Although surgical complications can be infrequent,10 it’s important for you to fully understand them so you can make an informed decision.
Potential side effects9 of weight loss surgery include, but are not limited to:
Potential complications9 of weight loss surgery include, but are not limited to:
Speak to your physician to find out more about the potential risks and see if surgery is right for you.
While weight loss surgery can help to treat obesity effectively, there are no shortcuts to success. There are many things you can do to prepare for weight loss surgery.
Begin an exercise program before your surgery. The sooner you begin exercising, the easier it will be after surgery.
Start a discussion with your doctor regarding your weight loss diet, including essential foods, vitamins, and minerals. Discuss weight loss meals before and after surgery.
Stop smoking for good. Patients are required to eliminate tobacco at least eight weeks before surgery and remain smoke-free after weight loss surgery. Not only is smoking bad for your health, but the risks associated with tobacco and surgery are considerable. Speak with your primary care physician about smoking cessation techniques and prescriptions.
Eliminate alcohol. Alcohol causes gastric irritation that can lead to liver damage. During periods of rapid weight loss, the liver becomes especially vulnerable to toxins such as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are also high in empty calories and may cause “dumping syndrome.”
Inform your surgeon of all the medicines and herbal supplements you are taking. Check the label of your multivitamin, as many can contain herbal supplements. Assess all labels of over-the-counter medicines, since certain ones can contain aspirin.
Courcoulas A, Yanovski S, Bonds D, et al. Long-term outcomes of bariatric surgery: A national institutes of health symposium. JAMA Surg. 2014 Dec; 149(12):1323-1329.
ASMBS. Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery. ASMBS Website. https://asmbs.org/patients/benefits-of-weight-loss-surgery. Accessed Dec 6, 2021.
Maciejewski M, Arterburn D, Van Scoyoc L, et al. Bariatric surgery and long-term durability of weight loss. JAMA Surg. 2016 Nov 1;151(11):1046-1055.
Tarride, JE, Breau R, Sharma AM, Hong D, Gmora S, et al. The effect of bariatric surgery on mobility, health related quality of life, healthcare resource utilization, and employment status. Obes Surg. 2017; 27:349–356. DOI 10.1007/s11695-016-2298-6.
Elder K, Wolfe B. Bariatric Surgery: A Review of Procedures and Outcomes. & Gastroenterology, 2007. vol 132, 2253-2271, https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2007.03.057.
Christou N, Sampalis J, Liberman M, et al. Surgery decreases long-term mortality, morbidity, and health care use in morbidly obese patients. Ann Surg. 2004 Sep;240(3):416-23; discussion 423-4
Batterham R.L., Cummings D.E. Mechanisms of diabetes improvement following bariatric/metabolic surgery, 2016 Diabetes Care, 39 (6), pp. 893-901.
Dimitriadis, G. K., Randeva, M. S., Miras, A. D. Potential Hormone Mechanisms of Bariatric Surgery. 2017. Current obesity reports, 6(3), 253–265.
NIDDK. Weight-loss surgery side effects. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Website. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/bariatric-surgery/side-effects. Last updated Sept. 2020.
Petrick A, Kuhn J, Parker D, Prasad J, Still C, Wood C. Bariatric surgery is safe and effective in Medicare patients regardless of age: an analysis of gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy outcomes. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2019 Oct;15(10):1704-1711.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.