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How weight loss surgery is done

Types of weight loss surgery and what happens

Gastric bypass, gastric band and gastrectomy weight loss surgery are all done by a surgeon using keyhole surgery while you're under general anaesthetic (asleep).

Gastric bypass (Roux-en-Y)

Your stomach is divided in 2 using a stomach staple. This creates a small pouch at the top of the stomach. The new stomach pouch is then attached to the lower part of your small intestine.

After surgery, food passes from your stomach pouch to the lower part of your small intestine.

The operation usually takes around 2 hours.

Biliopancreatic diversion and duodenal bypass surgery are similar types of surgery, but less common. They both involve having part of the stomach removed.

Diagram of a stomach with a gastric bypass connecting the top of the stomach to the lower intestine.
A gastric bypass attaches the top of the stomach to the lower intestine.

Biliopancreatic diversion or duodenal bypass

These procedures are similar to a gastric bypass, but the stomach pouch is connected further along the small intestine.

They can cause more side effects than a gastric bypass, so are less commonly used.

Gastric band

An empty silicone tube (band) is placed around the top of the stomach.

At one end of the tube is a port. This is used to inflate the band. As air is pumped into the tube via the port, it tightens like a belt to create 2 smaller stomach areas.

Afterwards, the port stays just under the skin.

The operation usually takes 3 to 4 hours.

Diagram of a stomach with a tightened adjustable gastric band at the top of the stomach. At the end of the gastric band is the device to inflate it.
A gastric band is inflated to tighten around the stomach.

Sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve)

Surgery starts with about 5 small cuts to your tummy. It's then filled with air so the surgeon is able to remove part of the stomach.

Around 80% of the stomach is removed to make it much smaller and a sleeve shape.

The operation usually takes 1 to 3 hours.

Diagram of a stomach showing the part of the stomach that would be removed as part of a sleeve gastrectomy.
The right hand part of the stomach in this diagram would be removed as part of a sleeve gastrectomy.

Gastric balloon

Before the procedure, a thin flexible telescopic camera is passed through your mouth into your stomach. It checks for things that would cause problems, like an ulcer or a large hiatus hernia.

After the camera is removed, you'll swallow the empty balloon. It will have a thin tube attached to it that fills the balloon with salt water when it's in place in your stomach.

It usually takes around 20 minutes.

You may be offered a local anaesthetic or sedative.

Page last reviewed: 5 February 2024
Next review due: 5 February 2027