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When dieting isn't enough: 4 options for medical weight loss

When dieting isn't enough: 4 options for medical weight loss


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Motivations for losing weight can vary, between wanting to look your best on your wedding day to something more serious and health-related. If you know you need to lose weight for your own health and wellness but are struggling to do so, maybe it’s time for a medical solution. Diet and exercise can do wonders for many trying to shed some pounds, but sometimes these steps just aren’t enough.

For those who want to achieve serious weight loss through medical means, here are four types of bariatric surgery to consider.

Gastric bypass

A gastric bypass is one of the most common weight loss procedures. During this type of bariatric surgery, a skilled surgeon separates a patient’s stomach into two parts. A small pouch at the top is the only section utilized post-surgery; the rest of the stomach is closed off below. In addition, the surgical team will rearrange the intestines in such a way to bypass the top portion of the small intestine.

Post-surgery, patients can expect noticeable and fast weight loss due to three main results of the procedure:

  • A smaller stomach pouch causes a feeling of fullness sooner while eating;
  • Patients have less space for food and so won't be able to eat as much;
  • The body absorbs fewer minerals.
As with any major surgery, a gastric bypass comes with its own set of risks, possible side effects and medical issues, particularly if a strict diet is not followed post-surgery. If patients do not follow the recommended diet following their surgery, they can experience malnutrition and/or problems like dumping syndrome, a digestive disorder.


Adjustable gastric band

This procedure is typically done laparoscopically, meaning it can be less invasive than other procedures. During the gastric band procedure, a band containing an inflatable balloon is placed around the upper part of the stomach, creating a small pouch at the top.

A port is also placed in the abdomen, which connects to the band via a tube. A doctor may then inject or remove fluid from the port to inflate or deflate the ballooned band, adjusting its tightness and thereby the width of the opening from the small upper-stomach pouch to the rest of the stomach below.

Those opting for this procedure often do so because the changes to the stomach are adjustable, and no restriction of nutrients occurs. Advantages also include no cutting or rerouting of the stomach or intestines, along with lower risks of complications and mortality rates.

However, disadvantages may include slower and less early weight loss, as well as the potential for complications with the band, causing it to have the highest re-operation rate of all the bariatric surgical options, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

Sleeve gastrectomy

Much like the adjustable gastric band, the sleeve gastrectomy is also done laparoscopically and does not limit the body’s absorption of nutrients. The procedure consists of removing nearly 80 percent of the stomach, according to the ASMBS, and forming the remaining portion into a tubelike structure resembling a banana. This allows the intestines to remain intact while making the stomach smaller and reducing the amount the patient can eat.

Risks of early postoperative complications are higher for this procedure than a gastric bypass, but this bariatric procedure is shown to alter gut hormones, such as lessening the hunger hormone ghrelin, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Many choose to get a sleeve gastrectomy because it produces quick results without altering the intestines. In fact, patients can lose up to 70 percent of their excess weight within one year, according to Bariatric Surgery Source.


A biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (BPD/DS) is the least common bariatric surgery, says the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), likely because of its complicated execution and recovery. While most other forms of bariatric surgery can be performed with a laparoscope and small incisions, the BPD/DS procedure requires an open surgery, or one with a larger incision.

First, the stomach is formed into a tubelike structure, much like the sleeve gastrectomy procedure. Then, nearly three-fourths of the small intestine is bypassed, meaning that the food stream doesn’t meet with the small bowel’s digestive enzymes until much later.

This rerouting results in a large decrease of nutrient and caloric absorption. Although the ASMBS says this procedure is the most effective surgical treatment for advanced Type 2 diabetes, it also has the highest complication and mortality rates of all the bariatric surgeries.

All these possibilities present their own risks, as with any medical procedure, but many patients find that the benefits outweigh the risks. With so many options to choose from, it’s important to make the decision that’s right for you and your health.

If you’re considering weight loss surgery, talk to an experienced doctor about the best option for you. Make sure the hospital and staff are also up to standard; to find a hospital providing these services near you, visit Steward today.

*Editor’s Note: Anything in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended, nor should it be interpreted, to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Any opinions, statements, services, offers, or other information or content expressed or made available are those of the respective author(s) or distributor(s) and not of KSL. KSL does not endorse nor is it responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any opinion, information, or statement made in this article. KSL expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on the content of this article.*

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