Sometimes, being overweight can lead to serious health problems. People who are
100 or more pounds over their ideal body weight are more likely to develop medical
problems. These problems include diabetes,
heart disease, sleep
, and joint problems.
Weight loss surgery (also called bariatric surgery) can help very
overweight people who have tried but failed to lose weight and face serious medical
problems. But it's not a quick fix. People need to put in a lot of hard work before
and after the operation.
The three main kinds of surgery for weight loss are gastric sleeve, gastric bypass,
and gastric banding.
What Is Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
Gastric sleeve (also called sleeve gastrectomy)
is the most common weight loss procedure. With this operation, the surgeon removes
part of the stomach and makes a tube or "sleeve" out of the rest of the
stomach. The new, banana-shaped stomach is much smaller than the original stomach.
After the operation, a person will eat less, feel full sooner, and be less hungry.
The gastric sleeve operation only changes the stomach. The gastric sleeve procedure
is not reversible.
What Is Gastric Bypass Surgery?
In a gastric bypass (also called "Roux-en-Y"
gastric bypass), a surgeon creates a small pouch at the top of the stomach.
This pouch becomes the new stomach. Surgeons then connect the pouch to the middle
part of the small intestine, bypassing the upper part of the small intestine.
After the surgery, the stomach pouch holds a lot less food than a normal-sized
stomach. A person will eat less, feel full sooner, and be less hungry. And fewer calories
and nutrients are absorbed because the small intestine is shorter.
People who get gastric bypass tend to lose more weight than people who get the
gastric sleeve, but there can be more problems too. The gastric bypass procedure is
What Is Gastric Banding Surgery?
Gastric banding is not an option for most teens. As with the other
kinds of surgery, gastric banding makes the stomach smaller. The surgeon puts an adjustable
silicone band around the top part of the stomach to create a small pouch. People who
get the band feel fuller sooner and eat less.
The band is connected to a port under the person's skin. The doctor uses the port
to adjust the size of the pouch by tightening or loosening the band. The band can
even be completely deflated or removed entirely, letting the stomach return to its
Gastric band surgery has fewer complications than the bypass and sleeve options.
However, people who get the band don't lose as much weight. Gastric band devices are
not FDA-approved for people younger than 18.
What Are the Risks of Weight Loss Surgery?
Like any operation, weight loss surgery has risks:
People who've had weight loss surgery may have pain after eating.
They might throw up, get diarrhea, or have acid reflux (heartburn) after eating —
especially if they eat too much or too fast.
After surgery, people need to get used to eating very small amounts.
They need to chew their food more than they used to and space meals out during the
day. If they don't, they might feel sick. They might even start gaining weight again.
Food can move too fast through the stomach and intestines after weight
loss surgery (especially gastric bypass). Doctors call this "dumping
syndrome." It can cause nausea, weakness, sweating, cramping, and diarrhea. Eating
high-sugar or high-fat foods can make dumping worse. Patients need to be careful about
what they eat as their bodies get used to a different way of digesting food.
People who have had weight loss surgery might not get all the nutrition
they need. One reason is they are eating less. Also, when food doesn't move
through the entire digestive system, the body can't absorb as many vitamins and minerals.
After surgery, most people take vitamin and mineral supplements.
In rare cases, some people have serious problems after weight loss surgery, such
a leaky stomach or intestine that can lead to an infection of the area around
the stomach and other organs
a blood clot in the legs or lungs
blockage in the intestines
Mental health problems, such as depression
and anxiety, are a concern before
and after surgery. Most people feel better about themselves after weight loss surgery,
but some may continue to struggle. It is important for people who have had weight
loss surgery to follow up with their mental health professional and get help if they
feel overwhelmed or sad, or have other emotional concerns.
What Else Should I Know?
Weight loss surgery is no magic fix. But the hard work may be worth it for people
who are very overweight and have serious health problems because of their weight.
If you're worried about your weight or are thinking about weight loss surgery,
talk to your doctor.