Weight Loss Surgery Terms for the New Patient

As a potential patient who is investigating the procedure of bariatric surgery, you will probably be introduced to some terminology that is esoteric to having weight loss surgery. Below is a list of some Bariatric Terminology. If you have questions about any of these terms, please feel free to attend one of our support group meetings, and ask one of our surgeons to explain anything you want to know in more detail.  Our surgeons participate in our support group and all of them attend each meeting.

Or you can call or write an e-mail Tina today and make an appointment to consult with any one of our surgeons 609.877.1737. 

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Weight Loss Surgery Terms


Pertaining to weight. Bariatric surgery may be performed by bariatric surgeons. Bariatric physicians are usually internists who specialize in non-surgical weight management.
Bariatric Surgery

A surgical procedure used for the clinically obese as a weight loss tool. The Surgical Procedure can be:

  • Restrictive (Minimizing the amount of food a patient can eat)

  • Malabsorptive (Where the patient can eat larger amounts of food, but it will not be absorbed into the system.

  • Restrictive and Malabsorptive


Body mass index.
A formula for standardizing the extent of overweight.

Clinically severe obesity

The newer term for morbid obesity. Morbid obesity is defined as being 100 or more pounds over normal body weight.

Dumping syndrome

Dumping Syndrome occurs when the stomach contents move too rapidly through the small intestine. This usually occurs most frequently by eating foods high in sugars, heavy simple carbohydrates (pasta) or foods with a high fat content. Symptoms include nausea, weakness, sweating, faintness, and, occasionally, diarrhea after eating, Dumping syndrome is very common for the post-op bariatric patient it is the side affect of the inability to eat sweets without becoming so weak and sweaty that the patient may have to lie down until the symptoms pass.

Extensive gastric bypass (biliopancreatic diversion)

In this more complicated gastric bypass operation, portions of the stomach are removed. The small pouch that remains is connected directly to the final segment of the small intestine, thus completely bypassing both the duodenum and jejunum. Although this procedure successfully promotes weight loss, it is not widely used because of the high risk for nutritional deficiencies.

Gastric banding

In this procedure, a band made of special material is placed around the stomach near its upper end, creating a small pouch and a narrow passage into the larger remainder of the stomach.

The protrusion of a loop of an organ or tissue through a weakened opening. Ten to 20 percent of patients who have weight-loss surgery develop a hernia.

Intestinal bypass (no longer done)

This procedure has evolved and improved since it was first introduced some twenty years ago. In the early days, intestinal bypass — which is totally different from gastric bypass — had some very serious complications. Compared to the intestinal bypass, gastric bypass is relatively safe with fewer complications.


Abbreviated “Lap.” Operation performed using a laparoscope, a thin fiber-optic scope introduced into a body cavity through 4 or 5 small stab wounds. A Laparoscopic procedure, usually means less surgical related pain for the patient, less of a chance for wound infection, and a shorter recovery time. Most surgeons who offer the Laparoscopic procedure are and should be trained and skilled in the "open" procedure, just in case the "Lap" procedure becomes difficult, they will proceed using a full open version of the same surgery.


Impaired intestinal absorption of nutrients, causing food to be poorly digested and absorbed.

Morbid Obesity

Severe obesity in which a person's BMI is over 40. This is generally equivalent to having 100 or more pounds to lose.


Making an incision to do the operation; opening the abdomen.


Before surgery (Pre Operation). The time/events prior to surgery.


After surgery (Post Operation). The time/events after surgery.


Surrounding surgery (Peri=“around”, as in periscope [“around-looking”]). The time/events before, during and after surgery.


The removal of the tissue and skin from the abdomen; a tummy tuck. (Never use the term “tummy tuck” when communicating with an insurance company. They like to deny this surgery!)


The new small stomach created during most bariatric surgeries.

Restrictive operation (weight-loss surgery)

Restriction operations are the surgeries most often used for producing weight loss. Food intake is restricted by creating a small pouch at the top of the stomach where the food enters from the esophagus. The pouch initially holds about 1 ounce of food and expands to 2-3 ounces with time. The pouch's lower outlet has a small opening. The small outlet delays the emptying of food from the pouch and causes a feeling of fullness. Restriction operations for obesity include gastric banding and vertical banded gastroplasty. Both operations serve only to restrict food intake. They do not interfere with the normal digestive process.

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RGB)

This operation is the most common gastric bypass procedure. First, a small stomach pouch is created by stapling or by vertical banding. This causes restriction in food intake. Next, a Y-shaped section of the small intestine is attached to the pouch to allow food to bypass the duodenum (the first segment of the small intestine) as well as the first portion of the jejunum (the second segment of the small intestine). This causes reduced calorie and nutrient absorption The procedure is more extensive than the VBG (below). Some people prefer it because of a sick feeling that results (called “dumping”) when post op patients overeat. This can be a powerful feedback/learning mechanism whereby people lose their interest — at a “gut instinct” level — in eating excessive carbohydrates.

Vertical banded gastroplasty (VBG)

This procedure is becoming the most frequently used restrictive operation for weight control. It is less extensive than the RNY (above). Both a band and staples are used to create a small stomach pouch. The procedure works best on individuals who are not binge eaters.

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