Bariatric surgery is the clinical term for several different surgical weight loss procedures. The procedures use one or both of two approaches to help patients lose weight and improve or resolve co-morbid conditions.
During these procedures, the surgeon creates a small stomach pouch that limits the amount of food patients can eat. The smaller stomach pouch fills quickly, which helps patients feel satisfied with less food.
Examples of restrictive procedures:
During these procedures, the surgeon reroutes the small intestine so that food skips a portion of it. The small intestine absorbs calories and nutrients from food, and by avoiding part of it means that many calories and nutrients are not absorbed.
Surgeons rarely perform strictly malabsorptive procedures. Most procedures that use malabsorption also use restriction.
Certain procedures use both restriction and malabsorption. For example, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery uses a combination of restriction and malabsorption. During the procedure, the surgeon creates a small pouch. The surgeon then attaches a Y-shaped section of the small intestine directly to the stomach pouch. This allows food to bypass a large portion of the small intestine, which absorbs calories and nutrients. The smaller stomach pouch causes patients to feel fuller sooner and eat less food; bypassing a portion of the small intestine means the patient’s body absorbs fewer calories.
Examples of combination procedures:
These different methods work to help patients lose excess weight, lower their BMI, and transform their health by resolving or improving co-morbid conditions. Bariatric surgery has many benefits that can lead to a healthier, higher quality of life. It also has certain risks.
What are the complications and risks associated with bariatric surgery?
As with any surgery, there are immediate and long-term complications and risks. Possible risks can include, but are not limited to:
- Complications due to anesthesia and medications
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Dehiscence (separation of areas that are stitched or stapled together)
- Leaks from staple lines
- Marginal ulcers
- Pulmonary problems
- Spleen injury
- Stenosis (narrowing of a passage, such as a valve)
What are the possible side effects of bariatric surgery?
Side effects include:
- Dumping syndrome
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Need to avoid pregnancy temporarily
- Nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, excessive sweating, increased gas, and dizziness