How Weight-Loss Surgery Choices Are Changing

Americans now prefer less-extensive sleeve gastrectomy to traditional gastric bypass.


When it comes to weight-loss surgery in the U.S., a new procedure has taken over as first choice, the latest figures show. Sleeve gastrectomy is now more popular than gastric bypass surgery, which makes deeper changes in the digestive tract.

In a four-year study, presented at the annual ObesityWeek conference in November, researchers looked at more than 70,000 patients who had weight-loss surgery between 2010 and 2013. Sleeve gastrectomy grew from slightly more than 9 percent of procedures in 2010 to 49 percent by 2013. Gastric bypass dropped from about 58 percent of procedures to 44 percent.


First and foremost, weight-loss surgery is a last resort. It’s meant for obese people who’ve repeatedly tried to lose weight through diet, exercise and medications, but who can’t achieve or maintain a healthy weight, putting them at risk for a variety of serious medical conditions.


Below, bariatric surgeons and patients talk about deciding between these top two types of major weight-loss surgery.

Uneventful Surgery


Wendy Harmon, 47, is happy with the sleeve gastrectomy surgery she had in July. She wanted to lose weight permanently, but without having her digestive tract realigned, as with gastric bypass.

Sleeve gastrectomy is performed with a laparoscope, which is placed along with surgical instruments through small incisions in the abdomen. Surgeons remove up to 80 percent of the stomach, leaving a narrow gastric tube or “sleeve.” After the procedure, patients can no longer eat as much, and they feel full from far smaller food portions than they did before.

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