How to Decide: Bariatric Surgery or Medical Weight-Loss?

You may have  tried diet after diet and  exercise programs from health clubs to classes. You may have succeeded  in losing weight  only to put it right back on again.

If you’re feeling frustrated because all of your efforts have failed, it may be time to try something different.

At West Suburban Medical Center, we offer two programs that have helped many people just like you lose weight and keep it off: bariatric surgery and also a nonsurgical medical weight-loss program. One of these options might be the right choice for you.

What is Bariatric Surgery?

bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery, also called weight-loss surgery, refers to any of several surgical procedures designed to help people successfully lose weight and keep it off.

Bariatric surgery may be performed laparoscopically/minimally invasively meaning less incisions and faster recovery time, as well as robotically and includes: :

  • Gastric bypass surgery, or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. The bariatric surgeon uses the stomach to make a smaller “pouch”, then bypasses the stomach to connect the “pouch” to the small intestine. 
  • Lap-Band® surgery, or gastric banding,  involves placing an adjustable, inflatable silicone band around the upper part of the stomach to limitl food consumption. Doctors  may make regular adjustments to the band, as needed..
  • Gastric sleeve surgery or sleeve sastrectomy reduces a person's stomach to 15 to 20 percent of its original size. Doctors  remove a large portion of the outside curve of the stomach, leaving a banana or sleeve-shaped pouch.
  • Single Anastomotic  Duodenal Switch (SADI-S) or Loop duodenal switch (DS) ) is an updated and safer form of the previously performed duodenal switch surgery. DS or SADI-S   is a two-part surgical procedure. The first part is similar to a gastric sleeve surgery because doctors remove a significant portion along the outer curvature of the stomach. The second procedure includes bypassing almost all of the small intestine.
  • Stomach intestinal pylorus sparing surgery (SIPS) is similar to DS surgery  except the sleeve is slightly larger.

After undergoing bariatric surgery, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) reports, most patients maintain their postsurgical weight-loss long-term.

Precisely what that success will look like for you depends on which procedure you and your doctor choose.

What is Medical Weight-Loss?

losing weight with medical weight loss

Medical weight-loss is a nonsurgical approach to losing weight. Sometimes peopleprefer not  to undergo surgery, or they aren't candidates for bariatric surgery. Medical weight-loss options allow them to lose weight under the guidance of a physician and other medical professionals.

In many cases, medical weight-loss precedes bariatric surgery as a way to help surgical candidates make  lifestyle changes to ensure long-term success with their surgery.

Medical weight-loss can typically include one or more of the following:

  • Lifestyle counseling from registered dietitians and nutritionists to guide diet and nutrition. Customized eating-plans are tailored to  patients and tools are provided to make healthy lifestyle and eating choices. Nutritional and lifestyle counseling can also help patients recognize and manage obstacles to their weight loss.
  • Medication may help medical weight-loss patients lose weight when lifestyle changes alone don't result in weight loss. A variety of FDA-approved prescription drugs will be considered. . Each works a bit differently; some might curb your appetite, increase feelings of fullness, or make it difficult for your body to absorb fat.
  • Endoscopic intragastric balloon (EIB) is another non-surgical medical weight-loss tool your doctor might recommend. A silicone balloon is placed inside  your stomach, then inflated with saline. Your stomach has less room and limits food intake, resulting in weight loss.

Differences Between the Two Approaches to Weight Loss

Deciding between bariatric surgery and medical weight-loss requires an understanding of the differences in terms of preparation, recovery, and associated lifestyle changes.


Not every person qualifies for bariatric surgery. Several guidelines help determine if a patient is a candidate for weight-loss surgery:

  • A body mass index (BMI) of 35 and over, with at least one high-risk medical condition (comorbidity) such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and sleep apnea,
  • a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater,
  • 18-65 years old (with some exceptions),
  • acceptable operative risks,
  • failed attempts with diet plans, behavioral as well  as medical therapy,
  • realistic expectations and a strong motivation to become healthier,
  • capable of understanding the procedure and implications,
  • commitment to prolonged lifestyle changes and long-term follow-up,
  • psychologically prepared.

Bariatric surgery candidates are asked to meet with several members of a bariatric multidisciplinary team, including a dietitian, nutritionist, and psychologist.

In contrast, participating in a medical weight-loss program doesn't have the same strict requirements. Your doctor might insist on some behavioral changes, and he or she will determine your eligibility for prescription medication. You don’t need a minimum BMI for nutrition counseling, nor do you have to undergo a psychological evaluation.


Your doctor will advise you, but most patients stay in the hospital for two to three nights after  bariatric surgery.Most patients go back to work in one or  two weeks and resume all normal activities in three to five weeks.

Lifestyle Changes

Both  bariatric surgery and medical weight-loss requires  a complete lifestyle change. You will need to commit to a lifetime of exercise and healthy eating  to avoid regaining  weight. Dietitians, physical therapists, psychologists and   patient support groups will  help you meet your goals.

Bariatric surgical patients will need to follow a strict bariatric diet. Overeating or eating the wrong foods can result in nausea, vomiting, and other complications.

Is Weight Loss with West Suburban Medical Center Right for You?

medical weight loss

Obesity can lead to many life-threatening medical conditions. Bariatric surgery or medical weight- loss can help manage these conditions or eliminate them entirely.

Even if you've tried every diet from Atkins to the Zone and nearly every exercise regimen from Pilates to weight lifting,  you can successfully lose weight with bariatric surgery or our medical weight-loss program.

Contact a bariatric specialist at West Suburban Medical Center to learn more about your bariatric surgery and medical weight-loss options.  


Contact Us Today


Back to Blog