Duodenal Switch Surgery Explained

What is Duodenal Switch Surgery?

 This is a weight loss operation that is very popular because it allows patients to eat a near normal meal while experiencing considerable long term weight loss. With this operation, most of the stretchable part of the stomach is removed permanently, but its basic structure remains the same. Patients are able to lose weight both by malabsorption and restriction of food intake.

 How Is It Performed?

 During the operation, a surgeon permanently removes 85% of the stretchy upper and outer part of the stomach. This leaves a small, banana-shaped pouch (with a capacity of about 5 to 6 ounces) connecting the esophagus to the upper part of the small intestine. Because all important structural elements of the intestines and stomach are preserved during the process, the result is a much smaller stomach which functions the same way as a normal stomach. The smaller stomach means you feel full sooner after eating. After reducing most of the stomach, the surgeon also re-routes the intestines to significantly reduce calorie and mineral absorption.

 Many patients have reported significant decrease in food consumption, hunger and weight loss following this procedure. The surgery works by not only decreasing calorie intake and absorption, but also by dramatically reducing ghrelin, an appetite producing hormone. During the operation, the tissue producing this hormone is removed almost completely with the stretchy outer part of the stomach. Additionally, re-routing the intestines brings food to the lower part of the small intestines faster than usual. This leads to the release of vital appetite suppressing hormones.


  • The surgery enables patients to enjoy a fairly normal diet without experiencing dumping syndrome (though in much smaller quantities).
  • Patients experience long-term weight-loss and are less likely to regain the lost weight.
  • It reduces hunger.
  • No external devices are left inside the patient’s body following duodenal switch as is the case with gastric balloon or Lap-Band. As a result, there are no complications related to external devices.


  • Unlike lap-band and gastric balloon, duodenal switch surgery is not reversible.
  • Patients also have to adhere strictly to a vitamin regimen for the rest of their lives as well as periodic testing to ensure that their vitamin levels are within the required range.

How To Prepare For Duodenal Switch Surgery?

In the weeks leading up to the weight loss operation, a duodenal switch surgeon works closely with patients to:

– Assess their health (including asking questions about their surgical history, medical history, as well as medications).

– Conduct certain tests like blood tests, x-ray, ECG.

– Establish a pre-surgery diet plan – this may include no sugar, increased protein and veggies, lower carbs and lots of fluids.


How Long Does It Take To Recover After the Surgery?

Patients who had their duodenal switch done laparoscopically recover in about 1-2 weeks. However, the optimal healing time for those who underwent open surgery is between 4 and 6 weeks.

 What Are The Risks and Complications Of This Procedure?

 When performed properly, this weight loss surgery has a 99+% survival rate. However, patients may also experience the following risks and complications after the surgery – malnutrition, diarrhea, foul-smelling gas, bleeding, infection and possible injury to body organs.

How Much Weight Will You Lose With Duodenal Switch Surgery?

 Patients usually lose between 70 to 100 percent of their extra body weight following duodenal switch. However, to achieve long-term success, it is very important that patients do routine follow-ups with the doctor who performed the procedure.

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