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Weight-loss surgery: an overview


Weight-loss surgery can help you lose weight. It can also lower your risk of medical problems, improve your quality of life, and allow you to live longer. After any weight-loss surgery, you will:

  • Have a smaller stomach
  • Feel full or satisfied with less food
  • Not be able to eat as much as before

This handout describes 4 types of weight loss surgery.

These surgeries are almost always done through 5 - 6 small cuts in your belly. A camera is placed in your belly to allow the surgeon to see. This type of surgery is called laparoscopy. The four types of weight loss surgery are:

Gastric bypass: Your stomach is divided with staples into two parts. The first part is very small, about the size of a golf ball. This small stomach is called the pouch. The second part of the stomach is much bigger, but food cannot go into it.

The small intestine is connected to the small pouch, which re-routes food around the big stomach. The pouch can only hold a small amount of food, so if you eat too much or too fast you will throw up. See also: Gastric bypass

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAP-BAND or REALIZE): The surgeon places a band around the upper part of your stomach to create a small pouch to hold food. After surgery, your doctor can adjust the band to make food pass more slowly or quickly through your digestive system. Your doctor will need to place a needle into your belly in order to adjust the band. See also: Laparoscopic gastric banding

Vertical sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve): The surgeon removes a large portion of your stomach. See also: Vertical sleeve gastrectomy

Biliopancreatic diversion with a duodenal switch (BPD): This surgery is more complex than other weight-loss surgeries and is done much less often. The surgeon removes a large portion of your stomach and re-routes where the food you eat goes, so it does not pass through most of your small intestine, where food is normally absorbed

Your body will not absorb all the calories from the food you eat.

Your doctor will talk with you about your options and the type of surgery that is best for you.

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Review Date: 10/15/2010

Reviewed By: Alex Nagle, MD, Director of Bariatric Surgery, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Division of Gastrointestinal & Oncologic Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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