Bariatric Surgery Options

If you need to lose more than 100 pounds, and diet and exercise haven’t worked, bariatric surgery can be an effective tool for treating obesity and its related health complications. However, in order to lose weight, surgery must be accompanied by nutrition and lifestyle changes. Most people who undergo surgery lose weight, but which option is right for you?

At UPMC's Bariatric Surgery Center, our surgeons perform a variety of bariatric (weight loss) procedures, including minimally invasive bariatric surgery. They'll work with you to develop a personalized weight loss plan and talk with you about weight loss surgery to determine the best option for you.

What is Weight Loss Surgery? A Quick Comparison of Bariatric Surgery Options

Gastric Bypass Surgery

  • Creates a small pouch that bypasses the stomach and attaches to the intestine.
  • Restricts the amount of food you can eat and reduces the number of calories your body will absorb.
  • Weight loss is rapid. Lose 60 to 80 percent of excess body weight within 12 to 18 months.
  • Surgery time: 1.5 hours
  • Hospital stay: 2–3 days
  • Recovery time: About 2–4 weeks
  • Not reversible, in most cases.
  • Risk of dumping syndrome.

Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band Surgery

  • Inserts a thin, inflatable band to create a new, smaller stomach pouch.
  • Regulates the flow of food and helps you feel full sooner.
  • Weight loss is slow and gradual. Lose 40 to 50 percent of excess body weight over 24+ months.
  • Surgery time: Under an hour
  • Hospital stay: 1–2 days in hospital
  • Recovery time: About 10 days
  • Reversible and adjustable.
  • No risk of dumping syndrome.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

  • Removes part of the stomach and creates a new, tube-shaped stomach or "sleeve."
  • Limits the amount of food you can eat and helps you feel full sooner.
  • Weight loss is slower than gastric bypass. Lose 60 to 70 percent of excess body weight within 12 to 18 months.
  • Surgery time: About an hour
  • Hospital stay: 2–3 days in hospital
  • Recovery time: 2–4 weeks
  • Not reversible.
  • Decreased risk of dumping syndrome.

Learn more about the benefits and risks of bariatric surgery.

Malabsorptive and Revision Bariatric Procedures

Malabsorptive and Combined Procedures

  • Reduce the stomach size by two-thirds, but do not severely restrict food intake.
  • Reduce the body’s ability to absorb calories and nutrients from food.
  • Create much more intestinal bypass and therefore more malabsorption.

Revision (Restrictive) Procedures

  • Reduce the size of the stomach to restrict food intake.
  • Are for people who have already had bariatric surgery and either had complications or didn't successfully lose weight.

Methods of Surgery for Weight Loss

Depending on your health, the type of bariatric procedure you're having, and other factors, surgeons will use one of the following surgical methods:

  • Minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery — The surgeon inserts a laparoscope through several, 1/4- to 1/2-inch incisions to access the stomach and intestines.
  • Traditional open baritric surgery — The surgeon makes a 10- to 12-inch incision to access the stomach and intestines.

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