Decision Assist

Weight-loss surgery


The purpose of this tool is to help you decide whether or not to have weight-loss surgery. When making a decision like this, you must balance:

This tool is not a substitute for professional medical care and advice. Work with your doctor to help you make this decision. A second opinion from another doctor may be valuable. There is usually no exact “right” or “wrong” answer.

Your physician may make certain recommendations to you. However, the final decision about whether to have this test rests with you.

What is the surgery?

Weight-loss surgery may help some dangerously obese people. The procedure, called bariatric surgery, may lower many health risks or make certain conditions easier to treat, including heart problems, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and diabetes. This surgery may provide much greater control of weight than nonsurgical weight-loss methods. Weight-loss surgery may even significantly reduce diabetes and the need for medications to treat it. Heartburn, arthritis, and other joint and circulation problems often improve after surgery.

Obesity and health

Bariatric surgery produces weight loss through one of two approaches:

Vertical banded gastroplasty
Click the icon to see an image showing vertical banded gastroplasty.
Roux-en-Y stomach surgery for weight loss
Click the icon to see an image showing Roux-en-Y stomach surgery.
Biliopancreatic diversion (BPD)
Click the icon to see an image showing biliopancreatic diversion (BPD).

Weight-loss surgery is right for you only if you meet certain strict criteria described later in this decision tool.

Key points

How much time this decision tool will take

What this tool will provide

Review Date: 12/31/2010
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Previously reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. (6/6/2008)

  • DeMaria, EJ. Bariatric surgery for morbid obesity. N Engl J Med. 2007;356(21):2176-83.
  • Dixon JB, O'Brien PE, Playfair J, et al. Adjustable gastric banding and conventional therapy for type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2008;299(3):316-323.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.