A bariatric surgeon is a type of surgeon who performs bariatric surgery on patients. This type of surgery is used for people who are morbidly obese. There are two basic types of bariatric surgery, gastric bypass and gastric banding. Each surgery is used to promote weight loss in overweight patients. The surgery is usually recommended for obese patients who have been unsuccessful in their attempts to lose weight through diet and exercise.
When a morbidly obese patient is referred to a bariatric surgeon, the surgeon discusses the forms of surgery available to the patient. A male patient who is at least 100 pounds (45.4 kg) overweight and a female patient who is at least 80 pounds (36.3 kg) overweight are usually considered ideal candidates for bariatric surgery. Those with heart disease, sleep apnea, or diabetes but do not fit the weight criteria may also be eligible for the surgery.
One surgery commonly performed by a bariatric surgeon is called gastric banding. In this particular procedure, the surgeon places a small band around the top of the stomach, effectively decreasing its size. The band causes the stomach to form into a small, thumb-sized pouch.
After the procedure, the patient is unable to eat large amounts of food, thereby contributing to gradual weight loss. Saline solution is added or removed from an inflatable balloon within the band. This allows the size of the stomach to be adjusted according to the patient's needs.
A second surgery performed by a bariatric surgeon is called gastric bypass. This type of surgery can be performed in two ways. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RGB) is a procedure where the surgeon uses a vertical band or staples to fashion a small stomach pouch.
The band or staples help the patient limit food intake. After the pouch is created, a portion of the small intestine is attached to the pouch. This allows food to bypass the first two portions of the small intestine. When this is accomplished, the body has a limited ability to absorb nutrients and calories. The patient is then able to experience weight loss.
Another form of gastric bypass is known as distal gastric bypass. The bariatric surgeon removes a section of the stomach to leave a small pouch. The pouch is then attached to the last section of the small intestine. After receiving this form of gastric bypass, the patient is at a higher risk for nutrient deficiency. Since the body receives fewer nutrients with this type of procedure, it is rarely performed because of the risk of increased health problems.