Weight Loss Surgery Options and Health Risks

liposuction surgery
Some dangers of liposuction include infection, reaction against anesthesia, blood clotting, and fluid loss. Less serious risks from liposuction include bruising and scarring, numbness of the skin, and moderate problems, such as changes in skin pigmentation.

Weight-loss surgery (also called bariatric surgery) can help overweight people who have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight and are facing serious medical problems. But this is not a quick fix. People must work hard before and after surgery.

The requirements for weight loss surgery are generally for people with a body mass index greater than 40 (BMI calculator) or those with a BMI of 35 or greater with severe comorbidities.

Undoubtedly, the BMI is not enough to make an accurate diagnosis of obesity, since it is not possible to know if the mass comes from fat or muscle tissue. For this reason, anyone who has the question “Am I obese?should consult with a doctor for a professional diagnosis.

Moreover, if you are slightly overweight, surgery may still be an option if you suffer from:

  • Lung problems
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep apnea

Diet VS All Types of weight loss surgery

Obesity is a medical condition that must be treated. The preliminary cure is always diet as well as other practices listed below:

  • Diet: To reduce consumption, the patient can consult a dietician for professional assistance.
  • Exercise: To burn more calories, you need to exercise regularly.
  • Lifestyle change: To lose some weight, you need to change your lifestyle mindset, sleep, and eating regimen.
  • Medication: Medication treatments can be tried under the supervision of a physician.


It is important to follow these 4 steps first. If the desired result cannot be achieved, there are multiple bariatric surgeries that surgeons can perform.

Weight loss surgery options

There are several bariatric operations that can be done to lose weight. You must remember that these surgical operations are not a panacea as you need to adopt a healthy diet so the weight is forever gone.

Yes, weight loss surgeries are effective, but they also have risks and require a commitment to change your lifestyle, if not, they are useless.

Let’s look at the different operations one by one:

intragastric balloon surgery
The intragastric balloon is intended to reduce the volume of the stomach, thus our food consumption.

Intragastric balloon

The intragastric balloon is intended to reduce the volume of the stomach, thus our food consumption. Intragastric balloon It consists of introducing a ball of saline solution into the stomach with the intention of reducing its volume by half.

By decreasing gastric volume, the feeling of satiety is gained earlier, thus decreasing the daily food intake of the patient.  The operation is quite safe; does not require hospitalization, anesthesia, and does not usually have complications.

The deflated balloon is inserted endoscopically and, once inside the stomach, it is inflated with saline and the valve is sealed. Although there is already a more advanced method: the ingestible intragastric balloon. It would be enough to swallow a capsule attached to a thread. Once in the stomach the balloon would swell. A much less noticeable method.

The balloon is left in the stomach for about 6-8 months and an average of two pounds is lost per week, although this varies by patient. In addition to cutting calories, the key is to re-educate our eating habits so that when the ball is removed, the patient is able to maintain a healthy weight.

The Gastric Band operation is one of the most used in United States for being simple, and low risk.

Gastric band

An inflatable band is placed around the upper part of the stomach, creating a kind of small stomach. Again, the objective of this intervention is to decrease the volume of the stomach so that the feeling of satiety appears earlier. Moreover, the band prevents the stomach from expanding too.

The passage of food from the smaller stomach to the rest of the stomach will be made little by little through a small hole, the diameter of which is regulated by the filling of the band with saline serum. A first swelling of the band is usually performed around the sixth week, then it only swells if the patient stagnates in weight loss.

This operation does not require hospitalization or anesthesia, but it is somewhat more invasive than the intragastric balloon, since it requires laparoscopy (small incisions in the abdomen where the band is inserted and placed) and some points to fix the band to the stomach.

gastric sleeve surgery
The Gastric Sleeve is the technique that reduces the capacity of the stomach by removing up to 80% of its capacity.

Gastric sleeve

Here we already enter into more invasive surgery and, although it is done by laparoscopy, the size of the stomach is reduced by removing part of it (gastrectomy), by 75-80%. The stomach is cut vertically and stapled, forming a “sleeve” the size of a banana.

This operation lasts between one and three hours and does require hospitalization: between two to three days. The stomach retains all its functions, it has simply reduced its volume considerably, so the feeling of fullness will appear earlier.

The weight loss with this operation is greater than that achieved with the gastric band, although less than that which would be achieved with a gastric bypass, but the risks and side effects are lower, since here we are conserving part of the stomach. Unlike what is done with gastric bypass, where the stomach no longer receives food and it goes directly to the intestine.

gastric plication weight loss surgery
Unlike gastric bypass, gastric plication does not involve rerouting and reconnecting the intestines.

Gastric plication

This operation is similar to the previous one, unlike the fact that there is no gastrectomy but gastroplasty, by folding the stomach on inwards, reducing the volume of the stomach but preserving it in its entirety.

The stomach preserves all its functions and its volume is reduced by 75-80%. It does require short hospitalization of one day and is a reversible operation. Stitches are usually removed after a year and a half or two years.

laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery
laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery

Bypass or gastric bypass surgery

Across surgeries, this method is one of the most effective, since it directly joins the upper portion of the stomach with the small intestine (duodenum), leaving aside the stomach, which is not removed, it is left in place, but food will no longer pass through it.

This technique is so effective for the following reasons: the size of the stomach is considerably reduced (satiety decreases), absorption is also decreased and the insulin response is reduced. Three fundamental aspects so that the body does not accumulate, but begins to lose reserves.

In a matter of a year, 75% of the excess weight that the patient has can be lost, although it all depends on the habits of the patient after the surgery. The operation usually lasts about three hours and requires hospitalization for at least one day.

Abdominoplasty or "tummy tuck" surgery
Abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” surgery works by removing excess fat and skin in the lower and middle of the abdomen.


We can consider this operation an aesthetic operation, since it does not affect the digestive processes, but directly removes excess fat and skin from the abdomen, which is usually the part where it accumulates the most.

This operation requires general anesthesia, and there is no laparoscopy, it is a more invasive method where the skin of the abdomen is released with a scalpel, removing the excess fat and skin, even the abdominal muscles are reinforced with sutures if they are very flaccid.

The operation usually requires general anesthesia, lasts about 2-4 hours and after the operation patients have to wear a girdle to further support the stomach. Here, even in a minimal way, there are scars and it takes a while for the abdominal shape to be homogeneous.

liposuction surgery
Some dangers of liposuction include infection, reaction against anesthesia, blood clotting, and fluid loss. Less serious risks from liposuction include bruising and scarring, numbness of the skin, and moderate problems, such as changes in skin pigmentation.


This can also be considered an aesthetic operation. It is one of the most popular surgeries to when it comes to removing fat from the middle of the abdomen, but it is useless if we continue with bad eating habits, since nothing is intervened on the digestive system.

It works by extracting fat using a syringe that aspirates it. The problem here is that when there is a significant reduction in fat, there will be excess skin and aesthetically it does not look pretty, so another operation will have to be done later to reduce that excess skin.

The surgery may not require hospitalization but your surgeon may require you to wear a compression girdle to alleviate any swelling.

Bariatric surgery risks
Bariatric surgery can reduce serious health problems like diabetes and high cholesterol, but it also carries risks. Talk to your surgeon about the different types of procedures and their benefits and risks.

What are the risks of weight loss surgery?

Like any surgical intervention, bariatric surgery in any of its forms can present complications.  Up to 10% of operated patients may present complications. In general, the problems are mild, although sometimes they are more serious and may require additional surgery. The most common are:

  • Nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea
  • Wound infection
  • Abdominal hernias

The most serious complications can occur in up to 3% of cases and can be life-threatening:

  • Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary thromboembolism (clots in the legs that can loosen and reach the lung). They are related to immobility after surgery.
  • Gastric acid leakage into the abdominal cavity due to a poor closure of the surgical connections that have been made in the intestine.
  • Digestive bleeding.
  • Myocardial infarction.

Currently, deaths related to bariatric surgery are rare. They depend on the technique used, the age of the patient (greater risk in patients older than 60 years) and the presence of other associated diseases.

The risk of developing complications varies with the type of surgical intervention. Gastric bypass carries more risks than restrictive techniques. The best way to reduce the risks of this surgery is to go to an experienced surgeon with a high percentage of surgical successes. 

The risk of complications is lower in centers that perform more than 100 bariatric surgeries per year.
Other complications associated with weight loss surgeries are:

  • Formation of stones in the gallbladder (cholelithiasis) that usually require removal.
  • Vitamin deficiency or malabsorption that can lead to anemia or osteoporosis. Intestinal absorption of essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, calcium and vitamin D is impaired. Taking daily supplements can prevent or reduce these deficiencies.
  • Excess skin that requires its subsequent surgical removal.

The risks vary in degree and based on the weight loss surgery option. Therefore, it’s important to do your research, and ask your doctor about the health risks associated with your particular case.


Surely you are going to hear testimonials from people who speak wonders of weight loss operations, but not everything is so beautiful. Keep in mind that an operation “always” is risky, and the patient’s life is changed thereafter.

These operations have postoperative procedures with specific diets and nutritional recommendations. You also have to take into account that you have to meet a series of requirements for some surgeries, it is not worth wanting to lose those extra poubds, this type of operation is usually done when obesity already poses a great risk to the patient’s health.

Of course, we always recommend changing lifestyle habits to lose weight, although we also know that there are difficult cases that require surgery, but they tend to be the least and also require a great commitment for the surgery to be effective over time.

If you are concerned about your weight or are considering weight loss surgery, please talk to your doctor.

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