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Understanding Weight-Loss Devices and Surgery


Sunday, November 29th, 2015

If you are overweight or obese and have been struggling to lose weight, you may have wondered whether bariatric surgery or another treatment is right for you.

Bariatric surgery can be an effective tool for people who may need to lose 80 to 100 pounds or more and there are some new options for people who need to lose less weight. These options may help you to:

There are several different types of bariatric surgery and some new devices that can be discussed by meeting with your physician/surgeon, but whatever you choose, it must be accompanied by good nutrition, regular exercise, and other healthy lifestyle approaches.

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ORBERA™ Intragastric Balloon

This nonsurgical procedure involves placing a soft but sturdy deflated balloon down your throat and into your stomach, where it is then filled with saline until it’s about the size of a small grapefruit. The gastric balloon procedure takes 20 to 30 minutes and you can typically go home the same day. The inflated balloon helps you lose weight — on average, about three times the amount you would lose from diet and exercise alone — by taking up space in your stomach, forcing you to eat smaller portions.

After six months, your doctor will deflate and remove the balloon. Starting two weeks after the device insertion, a team of support experts personalize a diet and exercise program that will help you:

  • Retrain your appetite
  • Adopt new nutritional habits
  • Establish an exercise routine that will be essential to your long-term success

Gastric Bypass Surgery

Also called the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, this is the most common form of weight-loss surgery performed in the United States today. For this surgical procedure, your doctor will create a small pouch that bypasses the stomach and attaches the small stomach pouch to the intestine. This pouch will act as your new stomach and can only hold about one cup of food, compared to four to six cups in a normal stomach. You’ll likely be able to leave the hospital in two to three days.

Gastric bypass surgery leads to rapid weight loss by restricting the amount of food you can eat and reducing the number of calories your body will absorb.

Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band Surgery

This procedure involves the insertion of a silicone adjustable inflatable ring around the top of the stomach to create a new, smaller stomach pouch so you feel full sooner. Unlike traditional gastric bypass surgery, adjustable band surgery does not involve rerouting of food to the small intestine and can be removed if necessary. Once implanted, the adjustable band can be tightened or loosened to maximize the weight loss response. You’ll likely lose less weight and do so more slowly than with other bariatric procedures.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

In this procedure, your surgeon removes part of the stomach and creates a new tube-shaped stomach or “sleeve” that restricts the amount of food that you can consume and increases the sense of fullness after eating. Weight loss occurs steadily in the first year and is similar to the weight loss with gastric bypass surgery, but does not involve any re-routing of food to the small intestine. Gastric sleeve surgery is a newer procedure, so more long-term outcomes with weight loss, health changes, and other issues are not yet well known.

Revision Procedures

There are other types of procedures that are considered for people who have failed prior bariatric surgery or who have had complications. You will need to be carefully evaluated before considering revision surgery and the evaluation may include an upper GI series and a nutritional assessment to review your eating habits and lifestyle.

All of the devices and surgical procedures have both benefits and risks and your bariatric surgeon will review all potential risks, complications, and other weight loss treatment options with you. Learn more about your weight loss options on the UPMC Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence website or visit our Bariatric Diet Resource for Recovery website to find recipes for healthy eating during the recovery stage of your procedure.

Bariatric Surgery Centers at UPMC

Each of UPMC’s four bariatric surgery centers has been named a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Our multidisciplinary approach to weight loss through both surgery and lifestyle changes is available at:

  • UPMC Hamot: For more information, call 814-877-6997.
  • UPMC Horizon: For more information, call 724-588-6660.
  • UPMC St. Margaret: For more information, click here or call 412-784-5900.
  • Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC: For more information, click here or call 412-641-3632.

Each center offers free monthly information sessions. Visit our website to learn more about bariatric surgery, or to find out if you’re a candidate.

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Bariatric Surgery

If you’re struggling with obesity and you’re ready to lose weight, the UPMC bariatric surgery team can help you find a healthier, happier you. Our multidisciplinary approach includes personalized care from all our team members — before, during, and after your surgery. You could be a candidate for weight loss surgery if you are 80 to 100 pounds overweight or have a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40. Learn more about the UPMC Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence. Read More