The latest in our video series where experts from the University of Chicago Medical Center answer frequently asked questions about popular medical topics. To suggest a topic or a question, please contact the editors.
Over the last decade, bariatric weight loss surgery evolved from a curiosity to a routinely-performed procedure, an increasingly popular option for people suffering from severe obesity. According to the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, roughly 220,000 Americans had weight-loss surgery in 2008, almost 20 times the number of patients who had such surgery performed in 1998. As those numbers have grown, the procedure itself has changed and improved – most bariatric surgery is now performed using minimally-invasive, laproscopic techniques, and there are a variety of different surgical options available to each patient.
The University of Chicago Medical Center was among the first hospitals to offer bariatric surgery for weight loss, and are today the only medical center in the area to offer all four surgical options currently approved and available. The strategy behind these options falls into two general groups: reducing the size of the stomach, and rerouting the digestive system to bypass the stomach or large sections of the intestines. In one procedure, called the duodenal switch, both of these strategies are employed, with the stomach reduced to a much smaller “sleeve” while the small intestine is rerouted so that absorption can only occur in the final three feet.
Last fall, the ASMBS accepted one half of the duodenal switch surgery – the stomach reduction portion – as a stand-alone procedure called vertical sleeve gastrectomy. Shortly thereafter, the Medical Center began offering the vertical sleeve gastrectomy procedure as an option to patients seeking weight-loss surgery. I sat down with Dr. Vivek Prachand, who performs all four of the bariatric surgery options, to talk about how the vertical sleeve procedure differs from the other surgeries. We also spoke more generally about what types of patients are appropriate for bariatric weight-loss surgery, common myths surrounding the procedure, and the importance of follow-up care in many dimensions to truly produce a healthier lifestyle in severely obese patients. Enjoy the videos.