Bariatric surgery is an essential option for battling severe obesity and improving quality of life. Dr. Davis with Nashville Bariatrics is here to help you understand bariatric surgery, its various types, preparation steps, recovery stages, risks, benefits, and lifestyle changes needed for lasting success.

Key Takeaways

  • Bariatric surgery is a powerful and long-term solution for severe obesity, often succeeding where diet, exercise, and medications fail.
  • There are various types of bariatric surgery, including gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable gastric banding, and duodenal switch, each with its own method for facilitating weight loss.
  • Successful long-term weight loss post-surgery requires significant lifestyle changes, including healthy eating, regular physical activity, and consistent support.

What is Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery does more than just serve as a procedure; it acts as a powerful ally in the struggle against severe obesity. Metabolic and bariatric surgery alters the structure of the stomach and affects the body’s metabolic pathways, thus facilitating a sustainable lifestyle dominated by healthy eating habits. This surgical intervention is lauded as the most potent long-term weapon in the arsenal against obesity, outshining traditional methods such as diet, exercise, or medications alone. Bariatric surgeries, in this context, provide a comprehensive solution for those battling with weight issues.

The surgery gives hope to those with a BMI of 40 or higher, who often find themselves trapped in a cycle of ineffective weight loss attempts.

Types of Bariatric Surgery Procedures

Exploring the different types of bariatric surgery uncovers a variety of bariatric procedures, each with its unique strategy for weight loss. These procedures can be categorized broadly into three groups:

  1. Restrictive, which curtails the stomach’s capacity
  2. Combined, offering both restriction and malabsorption
  3. Primarily malabsorptive, focusing on reducing nutrient uptake.

We will explain the subtle details and complexities of these life-changing surgeries.

Gastric Bypass Surgery

The gastric bypass, or Roux-en-Y, is often a key player in weight loss stories. It involves the creation of a small stomach pouch, about the size of an egg, which is then directly connected to the small intestine, bypassing a large portion of the stomach and duodenum. This architectural alteration serves a dual purpose: it restricts food intake and reduces the absorption of nutrients, rendering it a potent option for those seeking significant, lasting weight loss.

Sleeve Gastrectomy

Sleeve gastrectomy, also known as gastric sleeve surgery, takes a different approach, sculpting the stomach into a slender sleeve by:

  • removing approximately 80% of its volume
  • limiting the amount of food that can be consumed
  • tampering with the body’s hunger signals, thanks to the reduction in ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

As a result, patients often experience a decrease in appetite and an increase in satiety, aiding in the weight loss journey.

Adjustable Gastric Banding

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding is the maestro of moderation, employing a silicone band to create a small gastric pouch. The band’s tightness can be fine-tuned, controlling the passage of food and, thus, the sensation of fullness.

Introduced in the U.S. two decades ago, this method has stood the test of time, offering a reversible and adjustable solution to curb excessive food intake.

Duodenal Switch

The duodenal switch, or biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (BPD-DS), is a two-pronged surgical strategy that combines a sleeve gastrectomy with an extensive intestinal bypass. This formidable procedure dramatically diminishes the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and alters gut hormones to reduce hunger and enhance fullness.

Often recommended for those with a very high BMI, the duodenal switch can lead to profound changes in metabolism, rapid weight loss, significant weight loss, and potentially help avoid complications like dumping syndrome.

Preparing for Bariatric Surgery

Thorough preparation for bariatric surgery ensures a smooth experience from procedure to life after. Mental readiness is assessed through a psychological evaluation, which explores the patient’s relationship with food, history of eating disorders, and any substance misuse.

Physical readiness is determined by preoperative imaging to unmask any underlying issues such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, liver pathology, or cholelithiasis, ensuring the body is primed for surgery.

Post-Surgery Recovery Stages

Once the surgery concludes, the focus shifts to the stages of recovery. The initial stage is a liquid-only diet that slowly transitions to pureed food and then soft foods. Each patient’s dietary instructions may vary slightly based on the surgery they’ve undergone.

Over time, solid foods re-enter the diet, completing the dietary healing process that supports the new, smaller stomach in achieving the patient’s weight loss aspirations.

Potential Risks and Complications

Bariatric surgery, like any major surgery, comes with its own set of risks. Patients may face gastroesophageal reflux disease, chronic nausea, vomiting, and nutritional deficiencies that require lifelong vigilance and supplementation.

The nature of the risks varies with the chosen procedure, from the potential for slippage and erosion with gastric banding to the challenges of malnutrition with the duodenal switch.

Benefits of Bariatric Surgery

Despite the challenges, bariatric surgery often leads to long-term weight loss, with many related health conditions like diabetes and hypertension improving or resolving.

Quality of life post-surgery is marked by improved mobility, mental health, and social interactions that give each patient a fresh start.

Lifestyle Changes for Long-Term Success

The real key to achieving long-term weight loss success is not the weight loss surgery itself, but the subsequent lifestyle modifications. A harmonious blend of healthy eating, consistent physical activity, and continuous support must be established and maintained with a commitment to lose weight effectively.

Success comes when patients commit to a daily intake of protein, fluids, and regular exercise, ensuring their weight loss journey crescendos into a sustained triumph.

Expected Outcomes

As we navigate bariatric surgery, we can anticipate the expected outcomes, with the majority of patients experiencing the following benefits within the initial two years:

  • Losing half or more of their excess weight
  • Improvements in body image
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Enhanced mental well-being

These physical and psychological transformations give each patient a better quality of life.


As our explanation of bariatric surgery concludes, the key takeaway is clear: this surgical weight loss tactic offers a powerful avenue for significant weight loss and improved health. With an experienced surgical team like Dr. Davis’s, the support of loved ones, and the commitment to lifestyle changes that ensure long-term success, patients will enjoy a new version of themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the primary purpose of bariatric surgery?

The primary purpose of bariatric surgery is to help achieve significant weight loss by reducing food intake and nutrient absorption, leading to a healthier lifestyle, particularly for individuals with severe obesity.

Can bariatric surgery improve other health conditions?

Yes, bariatric surgery can improve or resolve related health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, and high cholesterol.

What lifestyle changes are necessary after bariatric surgery?

It is necessary to adopt healthy eating habits, consume sufficient protein and fluids, engage in regular physical activity, and attend ongoing follow-up appointments for long-term success after bariatric surgery. These changes are essential for a successful outcome.

Are there risks associated with bariatric surgery?

Yes, there are potential risks and complications associated with bariatric surgery, including acid reflux, nausea, vomiting, nutritional deficiencies, and specific procedure-related risks like leakage and band slippage. It’s important to carefully weigh the potential benefits against these risks before undergoing the procedure.

How much weight can I expect to lose after bariatric surgery?

After bariatric surgery, you can expect to lose half or more of your excess weight within two years, depending on factors such as the type of surgery and lifestyle changes. These factors play a significant role in determining the outcome.