Bariatric Surgery for Weight Loss

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 of Excellence, our surgeons perform a spectrum of 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 Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band Surgery Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Creates a small pouch that bypasses the stomach and attaches to the intestine. Inserts a thin, inflatable band to create a new, smaller stomach pouch. Removes part of the stomach and creates a new, tube-shaped stomach or "sleeve."
Restricts the amount of food you can eat and reduces the number of calories your body will absorb. Regulates the flow of food and helps you feel full sooner. Limits the amount of food you can eat and helps you feel full sooner.
Weight loss is rapid. Lose 60 to 80 percent of excess body weight within 12 to 18 months. Weight loss is slow and gradual. Lose 40 to 50 percent of excess body weight over 24+ months. Weight loss is slower than gastric bypass. Lose 50 to 80 percent of excess body weight within 12 months.
Surgery time: 1.5 hours. Under an hour for surgery. About an hour for surgery.
Hospital stay: 2–3 days. 1–2 days in hospital. 2–3 days in hospital.
Recovery time: About 2 weeks. About 10 days recovery time. 2–4 weeks recovery time.
Not reversible, in most cases. Reversible and adjustable. Not reversible.
Risk of dumping syndrome. No risk of dumping syndrome. No 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.
  • Single-incision techniques — The surgeon uses a single incision, reducing future scarring and potentially accelerating healing.

©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com