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Types of obesity surgery

What types of obesity surgery are there?


The surgical treatment of obesity has been transformed during the last decade or so, largely due to developments in laparoscopic (keyhole) techniques and anaesthetics. Two types of surgical procedures used to promote weight loss are:


Restrictive surgery 

During these procedures the stomach is made smaller so that it holds less food, making you feel full with smaller portions.  Because you can only eat small quantities, your calorie intake falls and you lose weight.  Restrictive procedures do not interfere with normal digestion and absorption of nutrients.  


Malabsorptive surgery

This approach changes the body’s ability to absorb calories from food.  By re-routing food in such a way as to exclude (bypass) a section of the small bowel (intestine), much of the calories and nutrients pass through without being absorbed.  Again, fewer absorbed calories means weight loss.  


Most modern surgical treatments for obesity involve pure restriction or a combination of restriction and malabsorption.   The two most commonly performed operations for obesity are:


1.      Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) also known as lap banding/gastric banding




2.      Gastric bypass ( combining both restrictive and malabsorptive elements)


Gastric banding is a purely restrictive procedure whilst gastric bypass combines restriction with a small malabsorptive component.  Other less commonly performed procedures include biliopancreatic diversion (BPD), duodenal switch (BPD/DS) and variants. 


A summary of the main benefits and risks of these two procedures is shown below:



Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding versus Gastric Bypass


Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB)

Gastric bypass

100% restrictive procedure


70% restrictive, 30% malabsorptive

Takes around 45 minutes

Takes around 1.5 – 2 hours


Hospital stay 1 night

Hospital stay 3 nights


Recovery time 10-14 days

Recovery time up to 6 weeks


Fully reversible procedure

Not easily reversible


50-60% excess weight loss

60-70% excess weight loss


<5% early complication rate

5-10% early complication rate (haemorrhage, staple-line leakage etc)


Mortality 1: 1000 (0.1%)

Mortality 1:200 (0.5%)


No risk of metabolic complications

Risk of metabolic complications including vitamin and mineral deficiency


Vitamin and mineral supplementation recommended but not essential

Lifelong vitamin and mineral supplementation essential


Regular band adjustments required to achieve desired weight loss

Regular blood tests required to prevent anaemia, protein deficiency etc



Healthier Weight's expert team will advise you regarding which of these procedures – or other alternatives – is the most appropriate for you.


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The information within this guide to obesity / weight loss surgery is provided by Healthier Weight. Intuition Communication Ltd bears no responsibility for information published in this guide. Read Disclaimer in full.