Weight Loss Procedures

In general, weight-loss surgery helps patients lose approximately 50 percent of their excess weight. But to maintain weight loss, patients must continue with healthy eating and exercise habits.

Surgical Procedures

Stomach (gastric) surgery involves creating a small pouch at the top of the stomach, which can hold only a small amount of food. If the patient eats more food than the pouch allows, discomfort results. This surgery encourages patients to eat small, healthy meals. One example of stomach surgery is vertical banded gastroplasty, which divides the stomach into two parts.

Stomach surgery plus intestinal bypass goes one step further by adding a bypass around part of the small intestine. This surgery not only limits the amount of food a patient can eat, but also reduces the amount of calories absorbed by the small intestine.

In gastric bypass surgery, food generally goes directly into the middle of the small intestine so that fewer calories are absorbed. In laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery, the surgeon makes smaller incisions and uses smaller instruments to perform the procedure.

Laparoscopic surgery, which is not suitable for all patients, may decrease the length of the patient's hospitalization and recovery period.

Other Weight Loss Procedures

In January 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Maestro Rechargeable System—the first weight loss device designed to target the abdominal vagus nerve, which controls feelings of hunger and fullness. This device is approved for use in adults who have been unable to lose weight with a weight loss program and who have a BMI of 35 to 45 along with at least one obesity-related condition (e.g., type 2 diabetes).

The Maestro Rechargeable System consists of an electrical pulse generator, wire leads, and electrodes that are implanted surgically. The device sends electrical impulses, which block nerve activity between the brain and the stomach. In a clinical trial, people who used the device lost 8.5 percent more weight over 1 year. As part of the approval, the FDA is requiring a 5-year post-approval study.

Adverse effects of this weight loss treatment device include the following:

  • Belching
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Surgical complications

The ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon System was approved by the FDA in July 2015. This minimally-invasive procedure involves inserting a balloon device (a pair of connected balloons) into the stomach through the mouth—using endoscopy. Once the device is in place, it is inflated with sterile solution to take up room in the stomach. The procedure is performed under mild sedation and takes about 30 minutes. The device is removed after 6 months.

The ReShape Dual Balloon device is approved for adults with obesity and one or more obesity-related conditions who have not been able to lose weight through diet and exercise. Possible adverse effects of the procedure and sedation include headache, muscle pain, and nausea. Severe allergic reactions, heart attack, infection, esophageal tears, and breathing problems also may occur. While the device is in place, side effects can include indigestion, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, and gastric ulcers.

This weight loss treatment should not be used in people with certain conditions (e.g., hiatal hernia, inflammatory bowel disease), people with active H. pylori infection or symptoms of delayed gastric emptying, women who are pregnant, people who had previous GI or bariatric surgery, or anyone who is on aspirin therapy.

Complications of Weight Loss Surgery

There are complications associated with weight loss surgery. Dumping syndrome (feeling nauseated when eating too much or too quickly) can occur, although eventually patients are able to eat larger amounts of food more comfortably.

Other complications include infection, blood clots, and pneumonia. Approximately 33 percent of patients who undergo weight loss surgery experience gallstones. Further surgery may be necessary, if the patient develops a hernia or weakness at the incision site.

Can Weight Loss Surgery Improve Libido in Women?

According to our sister publication—REMEDY'S Healthy Living Spring 2014—women who underwent gastric bypass or gastric band surgery reported significant improvements in sexual arousal, lubrication, desire and satisfaction two years after the procedure. Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania reported these findings following a study that included 106 women, who also reported improvements in body image and depressive symptoms within a year of weight loss surgery. Obesity has been associated with impaired sexual functioning in some women.

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: Karen Larson, M.D.; the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 29 Nov 2006

Last Modified: 30 Jul 2015