How can bariatric surgery help me lose weight?

Bariatric surgery can help you lose weight in part by resetting your metabolism, unlike strict dieting alone. The same amount of oral intake without bariatric surgery will leave you feeling hungry whereas with bariatric surgery your stomach and your mind feel satisfied.

Dr. Melissa B. Bagloo, MD
Bariatric Medicine (Obesity Medicine) Specialist

Bariatric surgery procedures for weight loss are either restrictive and/or malabsorptive: they restrict the intake of food and/or cause some of the food to be poorly digested and absorbed, and therefore eliminated in the stool. Gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy are "restrictive" surgeries, whereas the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, banded gastric bypass and duodenal switch are "combination" type procedures resulting in both a restrictive and malabsorptive effect.

In surgery for obesity management your stomach is divided into two portions: the small portion is your new stomach, or reservoir for food. As you eat, the food enters your pouch and empties slowly. Since your stomach pouch is very small, you will feel full very quickly. Overeating can be very uncomfortable and may result in vomiting. Your eating habits will therefore change drastically and you will likely never be able to eat the quantity of food that you can currently eat. For example, a typical size lunch for most patients is half a sandwich and a piece of fruit.

In addition, after gastric bypass surgery, most patients develop a phenomenon called "dumping syndrome." When sweets are eaten the patient experiences sweating, fatigue, lightheadedness and diarrhea. This unpleasant experience helps patients avoid sweets, and many patients report losing their desire to indulge in sweets. Furthermore, eating large amounts of fats may lead to poor absorption and result in diarrhea and abdominal cramping.

Bariatric surgery can help you lose weight by creating changes in the body that allow you to lose more weight than you would be able to lose on your own. More importantly, these changes also help you keep the weight off longer than standard dieting. Some of these changes involve hormones and some involve the way your body adapts to weight loss. People who have bariatric surgery still must create a healthier lifestyle by eating better, exercising regularly and becoming a more conscious eater, like we all need to do!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.