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The success rates of the 3 most common weight loss surgeries

Diving deep into everything you need to know about bariatric surgery.

Written by
Lucinda Starr
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
April 22, 2024
min read
The success rates of the 3 most common weight loss surgeries
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If you've been on a weight loss journey before and have experienced unsuccessful weight loss or weight regain, you've likely Googled how to lose weight and get rid of excess fat. Bariatric surgery has probably come up in your searches and you might even be considering it as an option.

But, before you decide to go down the path of invasive bariatric surgery, it's important to understand the commonly performed bariatric operation types in Australia and how they work.

We're diving deep into everything you need to know about metabolic and bariatric surgery, the most common side effects and the potential success rate of weight loss surgery. Plus, we're running you through some less invasive options to consider if bariatric surgery isn't right for you.

What is weight loss surgery?

First up, let's start with the basics. Weight loss surgery, otherwise known as bariatric surgery, is an umbrella term used to describe a bunch of medical procedures that alter the way food is digested by your body [1].

Basically, weight loss surgeries make the stomach smaller with the aim of helping you reduce your portion sizes as a way to aid in weight loss.

Typically, bariatric surgery is performed laparoscopically — meaning only smaller cuts are made to the stomach area, giving surgeons the ability to insert small tools with a camera attached to perform the procedure.

If you're unable to shift stubborn excess weight and are navigating weight-related health conditions (like high blood pressure), bariatric surgery might be recommended by your doctor as a way to help you lose weight.

What are the most common types of weight loss surgery?

Are you wondering what your options are when it comes to bariatric surgery? Here's what you need to know.

The 3 most commonly performed bariatric operations in Australia are sleeve gastrectomy (otherwise known as gastric sleeve), gastric bypass surgery and gastric band surgical treatment.

All of these procedures aim to help people lose weight, however, each surgery has its own set of advantages and disadvantages and eligibility requirements such as your body mass index (BMI).

Let's take a closer look at these commonly performed bariatric operation options.

Gastric bypass surgery

Gastric bypass surgery reconstructs the digestive system by decreasing the size of the stomach which changes the way the small intestine absorbs food [2]. Out of the 3 most common types of weight loss surgeries, gastric bypass surgery is the most major surgical procedure.

In gastric bypass surgery, the surgeon staples the top part of the stomach, creating a small pouch and attaches it to the lower part of the small intestine. The helps to limit the amount of food you can consume as the food essentially bypasses the majority of the stomach.

While this procedure can help patients to lower excess body weight, it is a major operation that needs to be carefully considered.

Sleeve gastrectomy

A sleeve gastrectomy is another procedure to consider, which creates a 'sleeve' in your stomach using a stapling device, essentially removing the rest of your stomach [2].

This shrinks the stomach's capacity from 2.5L to 200ml which makes you feel fuller after eating less food, in turn, helping you lose weight.

This is another tool to help patients lose excess weight and reduce the chance of obesity-related health conditions.

Gastric band surgery

When undergoing gastric band surgery (a.k.a lap band surgery) the procedure essentially divides the stomach into 2 sections using an inflatable and adjustable band to create a larger lower portion and a smaller upper portion [3].

This adjustable gastric banding can be used as a tool to help patients adjust to smaller amounts of food.

The main aim of gastric banding is to make you feel fuller after eating smaller portions by slowing down the entry of food intake into the main part of the stomach.

Is weight loss surgery always successful?

Alongside some pretty big significant effects, bariatric surgeries aren't always successful.

Bariatric surgeries can help you reduce your portion sizes by making you feel fuller with decreased portions which leads to substantial weight loss in the short term. But, after losing the initial weight, it's common to experience weight gain because bariatric surgery doesn't help you get to the root cause of why you might have gained weight in the first place.

For long-term weight loss, bariatric surgery patients have to maintain their weight loss with lifestyle changes like regular physical activity and a healthy diet. Sustained weight loss can be pretty hard to achieve because often times patients aren't taught how to make lifestyle changes that keep the weight off.

In some cases, further surgeries are required to make repairs to the initial surgical procedure, however, more than one bariatric surgery comes with even greater risks and poses potential health problems.

What percentage of weight loss surgeries are successful?

Now, let's dive into the bit you've been waiting for: what are the success rates of bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery success rate depends on a variety of factors like how you can sustain weight loss following the surgery.

Measuring the successful outcome of bariatric surgery is typically done by calculating the percentage of excess body weight that is lost. Let's take a closer look at the average success rate of each commonly performed bariatric operation [4].

  • Gastric bypass surgery: 60-70%
  • Sleeve gastrectomy: 50-60%
  • Gastric band surgery: 50%

Research into weight loss surgery success rate found that 50% of patients undergoing gastric bypass surgery regained weight 24 months after surgery.

The same study also found that weight regains and surgical failure was even higher for obese patients and severely obese patients. So, long-term success isn't as common as you might think [5].

What are some of the potential side effects of weight loss surgery?

Undergoing a bariatric procedure comes with both short-term and long-term side effects and risks. Sometimes, nutritional deficiencies can occur as a result of excess weight loss and cause other health issues including:

  • Consistent low blood sugar.
  • Malnutrition because bariatric surgery makes it harder for your gut to absorb essential vitamins and minerals from food.
  • Dumping syndrome, caused by rapid gastric emptying. This includes diarrhoea, nausea, light-headedness and tiredness following a meal.
  • Ulcers.
  • Bowel obstruction.
  • Heartburn and vomiting if the gastric band slips out of place.
  • Hernias.
  • Excess skin.
  • Weight gain or weight loss failure.
  • Blood clots [6].

What are the alternatives to weight loss surgery?

Since bariatric surgery comes with a hefty list of potential complications and risks, it's important to consider other options that are less invasive and can actually help you achieve long-term success in your weight loss.

Let's take a look at some alternatives to bariatric surgery.

Holistic weight loss programs

Pilot's Metabolic Reset Program helps you achieve long-term success in weight loss with a combination of targeted weight loss and up-to-date medical science.

For many men, weight loss can be difficult because your body is working against you by triggering hormones to keep the weight on, increase hunger and slow the metabolism down.

Pilot's Metabolic Reset Program uses modern medicines that introduce hormones produced by your gut to decrease your appetite. We also provide round-the-clock community support from our medical team, health coaches and like-minded men to help keep you accountable.

One-on-one goal setting with an Aussie practitioner as well as health coaching will help you learn and adopt all of the lifestyle changes — like mindful eating, strategies for managing emotional eating and ways to deal with weight fluctuations when they happen — needed to lose weight and keep it off, including healthy eating choices and regular physical activity.

Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty

Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) is a non-surgical weight loss surgery performed, where a device with a camera is placed through your oesophagus (food pipe) and used to make stitches inside the stomach wall [7].

This device is tucked inside the stomach wall (which can be removed at any time) with the aim of reducing the amount of food held in your stomach.

Intragastric balloon

Another non-surgical procedure used for weight loss is an intragastric balloon where a balloon is placed inside your stomach through a tube from your mouth [7].

This balloon is filled with salt water which takes up space in your stomach, making you feel fuller and decreasing your food intake.

Ultimately, bariatric surgery comes with a lot of side effects and risks and doesn't always produce a successful outcome. Plus, without the right support, it's hard to make the lifestyle changes needed to keep this weight off in the long term, too.

Luckily, surgery isn't your only option. With holistic programs (like Pilot's Metabolic Reset) you can gain the tools, health coaching and support you need to get to the root cause of weight gain.

We know weight management needs to be sustainable, which is why we back our treatment with ongoing support and guidance to help you make lifestyle changes you can maintain for years to come.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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