Bariatric Surgery - Portneuf Medical Center

Bariatric Surgery

Also known as: Weight Loss Surgery

Surgery on the stomach and/or intestines to help a person, with extreme obesity, lose weight. It promotes weight loss by increasing the feeling of fullness and satisfaction after small meals through restriction of the stomach size and/or reducing the absorption of calories by changing the digestive system’s anatomy.

Bariatric surgery is the clinical term for several different procedures. The procedures use one or both of two approaches to help patients lose weight and improve or resolve co-morbid conditions.

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Bariatric surgery is the clinical term for several different procedures. The procedures use one or both of two approaches to help patients lose weight and improve or resolve co-morbid conditions.

These different methods work to help patients lose excess weight, lower their BMI, and transform their health by resolving or improving co-morbid conditions. Bariatric surgery has many benefits that can lead to a healthier, higher quality of life. It also has certain risks.

Restrictive Procedures

During these procedures, the surgeon creates a small stomach pouch, that limits the amount of food patients can eat. The smaller stomach pouch fills quickly, which helps patients feel satisfied with less food.

Examples of restrictive procedures:

  • Gastric banding
  • Sleeve gastrectomy

Malabsorptive Procedures

During these procedures, the surgeon reroutes the small intestine so that food skips a portion of it. The small intestine absorbs calories and nutrients from food, and avoiding part of it means that many calories and nutrients are not absorbed.

Surgeons rarely perform strictly malabsorptive procedures. Most procedures that use malabsorption also use restriction.

Combination Procedures

Certain procedures use both restriction and malabsorption. For example, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery uses a combination of restriction and malabsorption. During the procedure, the surgeon creates a small pouch. The surgeon then attaches a Y-shaped section of the small intestine directly to the stomach pouch. This allows food to bypass a large portion of the small intestine, which absorbs calories and nutrients. The smaller stomach pouch causes patients to feel fuller sooner and eat less food; bypassing a portion of the small intestine means the patient’s body absorbs fewer calories.

Examples of combination procedures:

  • Gastric bypass
  • Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch


To lose weight, your body must burn more calories than you eat and/or drink. A diet plan should be based on your health and lifestyle needs, and would include reducing the number of calories you take in. If you are considering this option, speak with your primary care physician about nutritional guidelines, and keep in mind that many bariatric programs also offer medically supervised weight loss programs.


Frequent and regular physical activity is beneficial to most anyone—whether they are pre- or postsurgery. Generally, an exercise program includes cardiovascular exercise such as walking, swimming, or cycling, strength training using resistance bands, weights, or machines, and stretching. Speak with your primary care physician before beginning any physical activity.

Prescription Weight Loss Medications

Prescription weight loss medications may be considered a supplement to diet and exercise. Only a healthcare professional can prescribe these weight loss medications.

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Diet and Exercise* 2% to 5%
Medication** 0%
Bariatric Surgery*** 50% to 70%

* Success measured as a loss of 10 percent of initial body weight.
** Weight loss is not maintained once treatment ends.
*** Success measured as a loss of 50 percent of excess body weight (equivalent to loss of approximately 20 to 25 percent of initial body weight).

The above chart compares the long-term effectiveness of three different obesity treatments: diet and exercise, weight loss medications, and bariatric surgery.

  • Bariatric surgery clearly has the best weight loss outcome compared to the other two treatments—50 to 70 percent of people were able to lose at least 50 percent of the excess weight and keep it off for five years.
  • After five years, only 2 to 5 percent of the people who dieted and exercised had maintained a weight loss of at least 10 percent.
  • People who had taken weight loss medications were not able to maintain any weight loss.

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