If you’re just beginning your weight loss surgery journey, the myriad of bariatric surgery terms can be confusing. To help you navigate this unknown territory, we’ve compiled a list of 10 common bariatric surgery terms you’re likely to encounter along your path.
There are several options in bariatric surgery, commonly known as weight loss surgery, which are performed to treat morbid obesity. Two types of approaches are used: malabsorptive procedures and restrictive procedures. Some surgical procedures combine both types of approaches.
Malabsorptive procedures divert food from the stomach to a lower part of the digestive tract where the normal mixing of digestive fluids and absorption of nutrients cannot occur.
Restrictive procedures restrict the size of the stomach and decrease intake. Restrictive procedures do not carry the risk of vitamin deficiency that malabsorptive procedures do.
Gastric bypass achieves weight loss by gastric restriction and malabsorption. Reduction of the stomach to a small gastric pouch (30 cc – about the size of an egg) results in feelings of satiety following even small meals. This small pouch is connected to a segment of the jejunum, bypassing the duodenum and very proximal small intestine, thereby reducing absorption of calories (and nutrients).
Duodenal switch achieves weight loss by gastric restriction and malabsorption. The stomach is partially resected, but the remaining capacity is generous compared to that achieved with gastric bypass. Patients eat relatively normal-sized meals and do not need to restrict intake radically, since the most proximal areas of the small intestine are bypassed, and substantial malabsorption occurs.
Gastric sleeve is a restrictive procedure that removes approximately 85% of the stomach, including the portion that produces grehlin, the hunger stimulating hormone. The remaining 15% is a long tube resembling a sleeve, which is where the name is derived. This portion continues to function normally, so there are no food restrictions as with bypass.
Adjustable gastric band
Gastric band is a restrictive procedure and the only bariatric surgery that is reversible. A band is an inflatable donut-shaped balloon that encircles the uppermost portion of the stomach creating a gastric pouch. The diameter can be adjusted in the clinic by adding or removing saline via a port that is positioned beneath the skin. This enables the size of the gastric outlet to be adjusted as needed, depending on the patient’s rate of weight loss.
Prior to your weight loss surgery date being scheduled, bariatric surgery candidates are required to undergo pre-operative counseling. A psychiatric evaluation will be ordered to clarify the patient’s understanding of possible risks and complications related to the bariatric surgery, as well as the need to follow the recovery plan.
If your health insurance provider denies your claim for bariatric surgery, you have the right to appeal the decision. You can begin by contacting your bariatric surgeon’s office to see if they have a sample appeal letter that you can use as a guide. You may find sample appeal letters on the Internet and guidance on writing an appeal letter.
Body contouring is the general term used to describe skin removal and muscle tightening procedures performed by a plastic surgeon on a massive weight loss patient. Body contouring after bariatric surgery focuses on restoring the natural contours of the body to improve function and appearance. The surgery may be considered for cosmetic or reconstructive reasons, or both.
We hope our list of common bariatric surgery terms proves useful to you. Additional resources for those just starting out may be found on MyBariatricLife under Preparing for Bariatric Surgery.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life