Bariatric Surgery

Fact Sheet

Bariatric Surgery and the Endocrine System

  • Editors
  • John Morton, MD

    Marzieh Salehi, MD

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery helps people who are very obese to lose a lot of weight and improve their health. Most weight-loss surgeries limit how much food your stomach can hold, making you feel full after just a small meal (called restriction). They sometimes also limit the calories and nutrients your body can absorb (called malabsorption). Studies show that bariatric surgery also changes the action of certain hormones, such as ghrelin—“the hunger hormone.” People have these types of surgery if other methods of weight loss have not worked for them and/or if they have serious health problems caused by obesity.

Bariatric SurgeryBariatric surgery could have both benefits and risks for your endocrine system—the network of glands that produce, store, and release hormones. Hormones play a part in your body’s energy balance, reproductive system, growth and development, and reactions to stress and injury. Different types of bariatric surgery vary in the kind and degree of risks and benefits.

What are the most common types of bariatric surgery?

Although new techniques are always evolving, the most common types of bariatric surgery today are

Did you know?

Bariatric surgery can help you lose a lot of weight and reduce related health problems, but you still need to choose foods wisely and get regular exercise to prevent weight regain.

What are the endocrine-related benefits of bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery and the weight loss that results can

What are the endocrine-related risks of bariatric surgery?

Risks of bariatric surgery are most often linked to malabsorptive procedures, but they also can occur after restrictive procedures (those that only reduce the size of the stomach). Risks include

Some of these surgical effects take a long time to develop, and symptoms may only occur many years after surgery. You can easily prevent complications by getting enough protein in your diet and taking daily vitamin and mineral supplements for life. You should also follow up with your primary physician and surgeon for monitoring. The effects on other hormonal systems are still unknown and are areas of active research.

Question to ask your doctor?