What is­ bariatric surgery?

By Dr. Laura July, MD











Bariatric surgery is also called weight-loss surgery. These are procedures performed on dangerously obese people for the purpose of losing weight.


Why should I care about bariatric surgery? 

Over the last 30 years, obesity rates have doubled for adults and tripled for children. Sixty-seven percent of adults in the U.S. are either overweight or obese, with 18 million being morbidly obese, meaning 100 pounds or more overweight. There are more than 40 health problems associated with obesity including things such as Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, arthritis, infertility, liver and gallbladder disease, depression, sleep apnea, and certain types of cancer.


What are the benefits of bariatric surgery? 

The majority of diseases related to being overweight are either improved or gone following surgery. Life expectancy has also been shown to increase.


How is it determined if one needs bariatric surgery? 

People with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 40, meaning at least 100 pounds over ideal weight, are potential candidates for weight loss surgery. People with a BMI over 35 (75 pounds or more over ideal weight) are also considered for surgery depending upon whether they have health problems related to the weight.

The BMI is a number calculated from a person’s height and weight. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fat for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. To calculate BMI, visit www.allina health.org/ahs/healthwellness.nsf/page/calculators.


How is bariatric surgery performed? 

The most common procedures performed are the gastric bypass, gastric banding (Lap-Band™ or Realize™ band) and the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. Almost all procedures are done laparoscopically through several tiny incisions (similar to gallbladder surgery), which allows a faster recovery with the majority of patients being home after only one night in the hospital.


What is the follow-up care program for patients after having bariatric surgery? 

Patients are followed for the rest of their lives by the bariatric team including doctors, nurses, dieticians, psychologists and exercise specialists.


Action steps for anyone interested if bariatric surgery is right for them 

We offer free bariatric surgery information sessions for anyone who would like to learn more.


Laura July, MD is co-medical director of the Unity Hospital Bariatric Program. For additional information, call her office at 763-236-2045 or visit the website at www.allinahealth.org/ahs/unity.nsf/page/Bariatric Center#overview