Surgical Weight Loss Options As A Last Resort. Do They Work?

Surgical weight loss options have increased in popularity over recent years. The reason for this is that for the severely obese person, the weight loss post surgery is maintained long term. However, not everybody is a candidate for this sort of surgery. To be considered for weight loss surgery, you generally have to be 100 pounds overweight, or 80 pounds overweight and suffering from a serious medical condition that is weight related. Another way to look at it is if your BMI is over 40 you could be considered a candidate.

How does weight loss surgery work?

There are 2 ways that these types of operations work: restrictive and malabsorptive. Restrictive, as the term would suggest means that the stomach s made smaller, thereby radically reducing the amount of food that can be eaten at one time. All weight loss surgery has this as a component. Malabsorptive means that as a result of the surgery, not all calories, fat grams, and indeed nutrients, can be absorbed. This is due to part of the small intestine being bypassed. The Duodenal switch and Roux-en Y surgeries involve both restrictive and malabsorptive. The Lapband procedure and the older style “stomach stapling” involve only restrictive.

What types of weight loss surgery are there?

The most commonly performed 3 weight loss surgeries are:

* Lapband.
This type of surgery is extremely popular as is it the least invasive surgically, being able to be done often as keyhole surgery. This is the only procedure that can be reversed. The adjustable Lapband is placed around the upper portion of the stomach, creating a much smaller pouch. This band can be tightened over time by the surgeon if needs be. The Lapband still allows the nutrition of the food to be absorbed.

* Duodenal Switch is a permanent operation. This involves not only making the stomach smaller, but bypassing a portion of the small intestine as well. Food portions will be smaller, and the amount of food digested properly by the body is significantly reduced.

* Roux-en Y
is one of the most popular options currently. The stomach pouch is reduced in size, and the stomach is then reattached further down the small intestine at the jejunum. Rapid and significant weight loss can be expected after this surgery.


The advantages of all these procedures is rapid weight loss after the operations. For those people who have struggled unsuccessfully to lose weight, often for many years, there are no other options left. Moreover, the weight loss is sustainable long term for many.

Many health related issues are diminished or resolved as a result of the weight loss. High blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and joint pain, can all be alleviated dramatically by these surgeries.


As with any operation there are surgical risks including blood clots, infections, and post operative hernias.

Other complications include leakage around the sites of the surgery. Gallstones and ulcers are reasonably common occurrences as a result of these operations.

Expanding or bursting the pouch can occur from overeating. The persistent over-eater will stretch the stomach pouch, and weight loss will not be so great, and weight gain may eventuate.

Permanent dietary changes.
Not only will portions be smaller, but also high sugar and fatty foods need to be avoided. With the duodenal switch and Roux-en Y procedures, patients who eat sugary and fatty foods may experience “dumping syndrome” an unpleasant reaction which involves sweating, feeling faint, nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea. Most patients having experienced this then learn to shy away from these types of foods.

Nutritional deficiencies.
The malabsorptive procedures can leave patients depleted in iron, calcium, protein, and Vitamin B. It is imperative that the reduced diet contain high quality foods, and that vitamin supplements are taken if recommended by your health specialist.


Surgical weight loss options are generally a last resort for those who are considered to be 100 pounds overweight, or who have a BMI over 40. Permanent dietary changes have to be adhered to. Ultimately, the weight loss will be a combination of restricted diet, exercise and motivation.