How Effective Are Weight Loss Surgeries?

how effective are weight loss surgeries

People, who are highly obese find it very difficult to lose weight through diet and exercise alone. Weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery is a method that is performed to help such people lose considerable weight. Various studies have concluded that obesity is a leading cause of disorders like coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, gout, sleep apnea, hypertension and many more. So, it is, in general, important to lose weight.

Usually, people, who are slightly obese or overweight easily shed their extra pounds with weight loss diets and exercises. However, severe cases of obesity, including the ones, wherein diet and exercise have failed or obesity-related conditions like diabetes and heart ailments coexist, weight loss surgery might be recommended by the doctor.

Evidences suggest that weight loss surgery can be really helpful in long term if supported with a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet.

In a Swedish study, 4047 obese patients were observed over a period of 14.7 years. Half of those patients had undergone weight loss procedure. When compared to the other half, it was found that bariatric surgery played a vital in reducing the number of cardiovascular deaths. A lower incidence of cardiovascular problems was also witnessed.


Are You Eligible for Weight Loss Surgery?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is the primary criteria to find whether an obese person is eligible for weight loss surgery. BMI is nothing, but the measurement of the body fat. It is calculated on weight of an individual in relation to the height. BMI is applicable to adult men and women with 20 years and above. For children (2 years and above), BMI percentile is used to calculate body fat.

Basically, BMI is a tool that reflects whether a person is underweight, healthy, overweight or obese according to his/her height. Although, its result is not as accurate as dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and underwater weighing, BMI is considered as an easy-to-perform and inexpensive alternative.

You can easily measure your BMI with the help of various BMI calculators, available online, and charts and check to which category you belong to. You are only eligible for the weight loss surgery, if your BMI is 40 or above. This would be 80 pounds overweight for women and 100 pounds for men.

18.5 to 24.9 Healthy BMI
25.0 to 29.9 Overweight
30 or greater Obese
40 or above Morbidly obese

are you eligible for weight loss surgery

Types of Weight Loss Surgeries

Weight loss surgery is not for everyone. Its requirement varies from person to person. Basically, it is an effective way for only those people, who are struggling with excessive obesity (with BMI 40 or above). Bariatric surgery is certainly not an option for those, who are looking to lose small amount of weight or reduce fat from a particular area of the body. Discussed below are five major types of weight loss surgeries:

1. Adjustable Gastric Banding

In this procedure, an adjustable band is used to tightly grip the stomach. It divides the stomach into 2 parts – smaller upper pouch and larger lower section. Both the parts are connected by a very small channel, which doesn’t allow the upper pouch to get empty. After this surgery, people usually eat maximum one cup of food. Not only that, the food should be soft and well-chewed.


  • The procedure is simpler and safer in comparison to other methods, including gastric bypass.
  • The scar that a person gets during the procedure are smaller and the recovery is generally faster.
  • A person can also have surgery to remove the adjustable band.
  • The band can be adjusted at doctor’s office.


  • The weight loss rate can be slower as compared to other methods.
  • People might also gain some weight in future.
  • One of the most common side effects of this method is vomiting after eating too quickly or too much.
  • A person can face complications with the band: it can leak, slip out of the place, become loose, etc.
  • Some people may need more than one surgery.

adjustable gastric banding

2. Sleeve Gastrectomy

In this, a surgeon removes majority of the stomach (almost 75%). This leaves the organ to look like a narrow tube or sleeve, connecting with the intestine. Sometimes, this sort of surgery can be the very first step in the weight loss intervention. However, for some people, this is the only method required to lose weight. This surgery doesn’t affect the ability of your body to absorb food. So, a person never lacks the required nutrients.


  • A person can eat all types of food, but in much smaller quantities.
  • It is considered as a quick and reliable weight loss procedure.
  • No adjustment of foreign bodies like band.
  • Less acid production, so minimum chance of developing ulcer.


  • Needless to say, it is not reversible as part of stomach is removed.
  • Body can still absorb carb-rich foods, which can slow down the entire weight loss procedure.

sleeve gastrectomy

3. Gastric Bypass Surgery (Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass)

In this method, surgeons separate the stomach into two sections. Then, joins the upper section of the stomach to the lower section of the small intestine. This creates a shortcut for the food, avoiding some parts of stomach and small intestine. Bypassing these parts means the body absorbs minimum calories.


  • Person can witness up to 50% of weight loss in just first 6 month post surgery.
  • Because of the quick weight loss, problems like high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis improve rapidly.
  • Its long-term results are excellent. People may not put on weight for 10 years or even more.


  • If your body is not absorbing the food as it used to prior to the surgery, it may lack required nutrients.
  • Deficiency of calcium and iron can lead to diseases like anemia and osteoporosis.
  • A person may get gallstones (stone within the gallbladder) because of quick weight loss.

gastric bypass surgery rouxen y gastric bypass

4. Maestro Rechargeable System

This system is also known as the pacemaker for the appetite. It is the first FDA-approved antiobesity device (since 2007). In this system, a small disc is placed beneath the skin, but over the ribs. From there, a wire is connected to the abdomen, which sends signals to the brain that block the vagus nerve. This particular nerve regulates feeling of hunger and fullness.
The procedure may take up to 90 minutes to complete under general anesthesia. But, once the device is implanted, a person needs to charge the device once or twice a week.


  • Implanting the device is least harmful compared to other weight-loss surgeries.


  • The shelf life of the rechargeable battery is around 8 years and needs to be replaced by surgery.

maestro rechargeable system

5. Biliopancreatic Diversion

This method is quite similar to sleeve gastrectomy. In this procedure, a surgeon removes nearly two-third part of the stomach. The remaining part is then attached to the distal segment of the small intestine. As a result, the nutrient absorption rate significantly decreases, leading to weight loss.


  • As compared to other surgeries, eating capacity is greater.
  • Constant weight loss up to 18 to 24 months post surgery.


  • Recovery time is longer; around 6 to 8 weeks.
  • A very complicated weight loss surgery.

biliopancreatic diversion

Obesity is a serious health issue that has affected millions of people across the world. So, it is very important to get rid of the excess body fat to live a healthy life. You should always try to reduce your weight in a natural way, i.e., through daily workouts and by following a healthy diet. Even, in case of a weight loss surgery, one needs to follow a healthy lifestyle post surgery. However, if you think that only a surgery can help you lose excess weight, it is advisable to consult a doctor.