How to Choose your bariatric procedure
Bariatric Procedures
How to Choose Your Bariatric Procedure

Embarking on the journey of bariatric surgery is a significant decision that can transform your life. It can be overwhelming when determining how to choose your bariatric procedure based on your individual needs, lifestyle, and health goals. There are currently six approved operations available in the United States, including the adjustable gastric band (lap band), roux-en-Y gastric bypass, vertical sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve), duodenal switch, SADI-S, and the one-anastomosis gastric bypass. 

Regarding these surgical options, it is important to note that the majority of insurance providers currently do not extend coverage for the one-anastomosis gastric bypass and the SADI-S procedure. Should these procedures align with your medical needs and you are prepared to finance them independently, they remain viable choices. However, if you are seeking to utilize your health insurance and these operations are not covered, we strongly advise consulting with your bariatric surgeon to explore alternative surgeries that are both medically appropriate and congruent with your financial considerations.

The Different Bariatric Operations

Understanding each of the different bariatric procedures can help you make an informed decision and choose the best bariatric operation that fits your health goals and your lifestyle.

Adjustable Gastric Band (Lap Band)

This procedure involves placing a band around the upper part of the stomach to create a small pouch. It's less invasive and can be adjusted or removed if necessary. However, it almost always results in less weight loss compared to other surgeries and isn't ideal for those with a substantial amount of weight to lose. Also, due to mixed results in weight loss and complications, its popularity has declined.

Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass

This is one of the most common and effective procedures. It involves creating a small stomach pouch and rerouting the small intestine to this pouch. It's particularly beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes or severe acid reflux. The procedure results in significant weight loss but requires strict adherence to dietary changes to avoid complications.

Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (Gastric Sleeve)

This operation involves removing a large portion of the stomach, leaving a banana-shaped section. It's less complex than gastric bypass and doesn't involve rerouting the intestines. However, it might not be suitable for patients with severe reflux as it can exacerbate these symptoms.

Duodenal Switch

This surgery is more complex, combining aspects of gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. It results in substantial weight loss and is particularly effective for extremely obese patients. However, the risk of nutritional deficiencies is higher, requiring lifelong adherence to vitamin and mineral supplementation.

SADI-S and One-Anastomosis Gastric Bypass

These procedures are relatively new and not commonly covered by insurance in the U.S. They are variations of the traditional duodenal switch and gastric bypass, designed to reduce complications and improve nutrient absorption. However, due to their novelty, long-term data on their effectiveness and safety are limited.

Tips for How to Choose Your Bariatric Procedure

When considering bariatric surgery, it’s crucial to understand that there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Your choice should be influenced by your medical history, current health conditions, lifestyle, and weight loss goals. For example, if you struggle with severe acid reflux, the gastric sleeve might not be ideal. Conversely, if you have a significant amount of weight to lose, the gastric band might not be sufficient.

Moreover, your ability to commit to post-surgery lifestyle changes is crucial. For instance, if you find it challenging to remember to take supplements, the duodenal switch, which requires diligent adherence to vitamin and mineral intake, might not be the best choice.

Your bariatric surgeon will play a pivotal role in helping you choose your bariatric procedure. They can help assess your individual needs, discuss potential risks and benefits, and recommend the most suitable procedure. Remember, the goal of bariatric surgery is not just weight loss; it's about improving your overall health and quality of life. It's a tool to help you along your journey, but its success also depends on your commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle post-surgery.

In conclusion, deciding how to choose your bariatric procedure is a deeply personal decision. It's about finding a balance between your medical needs, lifestyle preferences, and health goals. With the guidance of a skilled bariatric surgeon and a commitment to lifelong changes, bariatric surgery can be a transformative step towards a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Preparing for Weight Loss Surgery
Preparing for Weight Loss Surgery Guide
Deciding to have weight loss surgery can be an overwhelming decision. In this guide, we break down all the details you need to consider when evaluating your various options for weight loss.
Download Guide
Lloyd Stegemann, MD
Dr. Lloyd Stegemann is a board-certified general and bariatric surgeon with a primary focus on medical and surgical weight loss. Dr. Stegemann practices in Corpus Christi, Texas and serves as the Medical Director of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery program at Bay Area Hospital and South Texas Surgical Hospital.
See if this is right for you.
Schedule a consult