Weight-Loss Surgery (Bariatric Surgery)
Weight-loss surgery is surgery to the stomach or intestine (or both) to help you lose weight. It's also called bariatric surgery.
Doctors sometimes recommend weight-loss surgery for people who are very overweight (obese), particularly if they have weight-related health problems
There are many different surgical procedures
After surgery, you'll still need to make lifelong changes to what and how much you eat
Weight-loss surgery can lessen weight-related health problems, such as diabetes
Weight loss surgery can be more effective than dieting but has a higher risk of side effects
To qualify for weight-loss surgery, you must:
Your stomach is where food first goes when you swallow it. The stomach starts digesting food and then passes it into the intestines. The intestines finish digesting food and take it into your body. Weight-loss surgery does one or both of the following:
The most common weight-loss surgeries include:
Gastric bypass is the most common type of surgery. After this surgery, your stomach can hold only a small amount of food. Food that leaves the stomach bypasses the first part of the small intestine.
Your doctor will recommend the type of weight-loss surgery best for you.
Doctors can do some weight-loss surgery with laparoscopy. Instead of cutting your belly open, doctors put a viewing tube (laparoscope) and surgical tools in through small cuts in your belly. Laparoscopy is generally safer and you recover quicker than with regular (open) surgery.
You may have to wait about 4 weeks to eat solid food. For the first 2 weeks, you'll drink protein drinks. For the next 2 weeks, you may start eating some soft, mushy, or pureed foods.
When you start eating solid foods, your doctor may recommend:
Even though having a smaller stomach makes it easier to eat less, some people still eat too much. Some people drink lots of shakes or other high-calorie liquids. Others keep eating even when they're full and gradually stretch out their smaller stomach. Even though you had surgery, you still have to watch what you eat so you lose weight and don't gain it back.
Also, because you aren't absorbing food normally, you have to be careful you get enough vitamins, minerals, proteins, and other important nutrition.
Changing how you eat can be hard. Counseling or a support group may help.
Weight-loss surgery may help you lose weight that you couldn't lose by dieting or taking diet pills. Also, you usually lose a lot more weight with surgery than with dieting.
Weight loss can help with weight-related health problems, including:
All surgeries have a chance of:
Weight-loss surgeries also have a small chance of:
Blocked intestines (affects 2 to 4 people out of 100)
Leaking from one of the surgical connections, which can cause belly infection (affects 1 to 3 people out of 100)
Bleeding from the stomach, intestine, or in the belly area
Gallstones or gallbladder problems (affects about 15 people out of 100)
Not getting enough nutrition from your food
Death (affects about 20 out of 1000 for open surgery and 2 out of 1000 for laparoscopy)
Because of these risks, doctors do weight-loss surgery only for people who are dangerously obese or who are very overweight and have a serious weight-related health problem. Talk to your doctors about the risks of surgery.
Call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection around your wound, such as:
Call your doctor right away if you have these warning signs after surgery: