Is Bariatric Surgery Safe? Will It Reduce Your Weight Completely?


Obesity is a growing health concern worldwide. Excess body weight increases the risk of many serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, joint problems, and even certain cancers.

When lifestyle changes like diet and exercise are not enough to achieve significant long-term weight loss, bariatric surgery may be an option. But is bariatric surgery safe for everyone?

Will it lead to permanent weight loss? Let’s find out.

What Is Bariatric Surgery? What Are The Procedures For Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, refers to various surgical procedures that aid weight loss by limiting the amount of food that can be consumed and/or the calories absorbed by the body.

Bariatric Surgery

Some common types of bariatric surgery include:

◾️ Gastric bypass

This diversionary procedure divides the stomach into two sections and reroutes the small intestine, limiting food intake and calorie absorption. 

◾️ Sleeve gastrectomy

In this restrictive procedure, a large portion of the stomach is surgically removed, creating a smaller stomach pouch.

◾️ Adjustable gastric band

An inflatable band is placed around the upper stomach, creating a small pouch that fills up quickly. The band can be adjusted for tightness.

◾️ Duodenal switch

This primarily malabsorptive procedure reroutes food away from much of the small intestine, decreasing absorption.

◾️ Gastric balloon

A balloon placed in the stomach occupies space and creates a feeling of fullness. It is less invasive but also less effective than other procedures.

Is Bariatric Surgery Safe For All?

Bariatric surgery is considered relatively safe when performed by an experienced surgeon at a reputable bariatric center.

However, as with any major surgery, there are risks including infection, blood clots, adverse reactions to anesthesia, leaks from staple lines, vomiting, bowel obstruction, and even death in rare cases. 

To reduce surgical risks, candidates need to be evaluated carefully. Surgery may be riskier and less successful for individuals with uncontrolled heart disease, lung disease, cirrhosis, or psychological disorders.

A thorough mental and physical exam is required. Additionally, smokers, drug users, and those unable or unwilling to follow postoperative dietary guidelines may not be good candidates.

Benefits Of Bariatric Surgery For Weight Loss

Bariatric surgery can lead to significant weight loss, with many people losing 30-40% or more of excess body weight over 1-2 years.

It may also result in improvement or even remission of obesity-related conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and sleep apnea.

Compared to nonsurgical methods, bariatric surgery appears more effective for long-term weight loss in severely obese individuals.

In one study, people who had gastric bypass surgery lost 35% of their excess weight after 10 years compared to just 3% for those who used medications and lifestyle changes alone.

For many patients, additional benefits of weight loss surgery include improved mobility, appearance, and quality of life.

However, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Bariatric surgery alone cannot guarantee perfect weight or health. Appropriate lifestyle adjustments are still required.

Will Bariatric Surgery Procedure Helps To Reduce Weight Permanently? 

For most patients, significant long-term weight loss is achievable with bariatric surgery. However, it does not always lead to permanent results.

Without proper follow-up care and commitment to healthy lifestyle changes, weight regain can occur over time. 

After 2-3 years, gastric bands may need adjustment for optimal results. Bypass and sleeve gastrectomy are considered more enduring procedures, but intestine stretching over the years can gradually increase food intake and reduce weight loss effects.

Gradual weight regain of 10-15% can occur over 10+ years. To help sustain weight loss, patients must adopt long-term healthy eating and exercise habits. Follow-up care like nutritional counseling and support groups are also essential.

With major lifestyle adjustments and proper follow-up, studies show most bariatric surgery patients keep off 50-70% of lost weight 10 years later.

Tips & Precautions To Follow For Bariatric Surgery

Here are some important tips and precautions before and after bariatric surgery:

  • Choose an experienced bariatric surgeon at a reputable facility with a comprehensive program. Verify low complication rates.
  • Follow the pre-op diet to shrink liver size for safer surgery. Lose some excess weight beforehand if possible.
  • Be prepared for 2-4 days hospital stay and 4-6 weeks recovery time. Have plenty of protein drinks and follow the postoperative diet.
  • Take recommended vitamins and minerals daily to prevent deficiencies after surgery due to reduced food intake and absorption.
  • Progress with eating slowly, beginning with clear liquids. Stop eating or drinking if you feel pain, nausea, or vomiting. Notify your doctor if symptoms persist.
  • Attend follow-up appointments and support meetings for monitoring and encouragement in maintaining lifelong diet and lifestyle changes.
  • Report concerning symptoms like fever, bleeding, persistent pain, or vomiting to your bariatric surgery team immediately. 


Bariatric surgery can provide effective long-term weight loss for severely obese individuals when performed correctly on suitable candidates. It may also improve obesity-related health conditions.

While not without risks, side effects, and the need for lifestyle adjustments, bariatric surgery can be a life-changing treatment option for those who have not succeeded with conservative methods. With proper medical guidance and patient commitment, it may offer a safer, healthier life at a lower weight.


1. How much weight can you lose with bariatric surgery?

On average, patients lose 50-70% of excess body weight within 1-2 years after bariatric surgery. Most maintain 50-60% long-term weight loss 10 years later if follow-up guidelines are met.

2. How long does it take to lose weight after bariatric surgery?

Most patients lose the maximum amount of weight during the first 1-2 years after bariatric surgery. Gradual weight loss continues over 2-4 years. Some weight regain may occur after 5-10 years if diet and lifestyle habits are not maintained.

3. Does insurance cover bariatric surgery? 

Many insurance plans cover bariatric surgery today, but benefits vary. There are usually requirements like previous attempted weight loss and medical necessity. Out of pocket costs may apply. Check with your provider.

4. What are the side effects of bariatric surgery?

Potential side effects include pain, nausea, vomiting, gallstones, nutritional deficiencies, ulcers, infection, blood clots, and rare but serious complications like leaks and bowel obstructions. Proper medical care can minimize risks.

5. Can bariatric surgery be reversed?

Bariatric surgery alteration or reversal is possible in some cases but not recommended. It has higher risks than initial procedures and is not guaranteed to restore digestive system anatomy or allow weight regain. Lifestyle changes are safer.

Dr. Jun Ren is a dedicated and experienced registered dietitian and nutritionist who is committed to helping people achieve their health goals through personalized nutrition plans. With a passion for promoting healthy eating habits and preventing chronic diseases, Dr. Ren has been able to assist numerous clients in improving their overall quality of life.

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