Can Bariatric Surgery Be Reversed?

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Weight loss surgery is a big decision that you must weigh carefully. Yes, it comes with major advantages, like promoting a healthier lifestyle and the ability for you to meet your weight loss goals finally. But deciding to undergo surgery takes a significant evaluation of the pros and cons.


Most people are confident about choosing bariatric surgery and the lifestyle changes that come with it. One of the biggest questions many patients ask is, of course, “is bariatric surgery reversible?”


Like most things in life, there aren’t easy answers. 


Whether a procedure is reversible or irreversible largely depends on your health, your surgeon, and the surgical option you choose. Let’s explore those details further to give you the information you need to feel comfortable with your weight loss procedure and answer more questions you may have about bariatric surgery along the way.


Go Into Your Procedure Assuming Lifelong Change

Despite the popularity of weight loss surgery, these procedures still require serious changes to the digestive tract. In some cases, this can include cutting and rearranging organs, such as the intestines.


The gastric bypass procedure is the most common weight loss surgery. It involves the reattachment of the small intestine to a newly created stomach pouch. A sleeve gastrectomy, also a popular option, requires the removal of a portion of the stomach.


If you’re asking if bariatric surgery is reversible, you should know that these changes are typically considered permanent. While some surgeons may be willing to make adjustments in serious situations, most assume that a successful procedure will last a lifetime. 


However, there are exceptions, and some surgeries have the potential for changes and reversals down the road.

Before and after depiction of a gastric band or lap-band weight loss surgery.

Which Bariatric Procedures Are Reversible? 

Despite the assumed permanence of most weight loss procedures, circumstances can arise that may warrant a reversal. To qualify, patients must be in good health with a legitimate need for a revision, as a reversal is still a surgical procedure.


For patients seeking a reversible option, adjustable gastric banding is the most temporary of all procedures. This surgery places a small band around the stomach to shrink its size. This means the procedure does not require any surgical adjustments or incisions within the digestive tract. This can be valuable for patients who regain weight following their procedure. Simple revision surgery can reposition or remove the band altogether if the situation warrants it. 


Although not common, gastric bypass procedures can also be revised. However, the risks of these surgeries are higher than the initial procedure. Due to removing a section of the stomach, sleeve gastrectomy procedures cannot be altered once complete.


What Else Should I Know About Bariatric Surgery?

Because weight loss surgery is likely permanent, both in terms of the surgical procedure and the postoperative changes you’ll need to make to your lifestyle, there are a few additional things you should know about bariatric surgery.

Let’s look at some more common questions about bariatric surgery.

Happy couple enjoying a healthy lifestyle.

Is Bariatric Surgery Covered by Insurance?

It’s important to consider the costs of a procedure like bariatric surgery before embarking on your weight loss surgery. A key component is whether your insurance covers bariatric surgery. 

Many insurance companies will cover at least part of a bariatric procedure if your doctor can show that it is a medical necessity. Our Olde Del Mar team can help you navigate the insurance process and find the most affordable procedure for you. 


Is Bariatric Surgery Safe?

There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. However, possible complications associated with bariatric surgery are rare, and most patients maintain a high success rate following the procedure. The risks of living with obesity and complications arising from obesity should be considered more of a threat to your health than common weight loss procedures.

Serious risks in rare cases include dumping syndrome, or a group of symptoms that occur when food moves too quickly through the intestinal tract, and malnutrition. In cases where something does go wrong, reoperation may be necessary.


Is Bariatric Surgery Painful?

Bariatric surgery is a surgical procedure, so some pain as you’re healing after surgery is to be expected. How much pain a patient experiences depends on their own pain tolerance levels and the type of procedure they’ve chosen as their weight loss procedure.

The larger the incision, for example, the more pain you’ll potentially feel after your procedure. Pain medication following the surgery is supportive in making you feel more comfortable as you heal. Your doctor will go over your options around pain management before your surgery and provide tips on maximizing your comfort.


How Long Does It Take to Recover From Bariatric Surgery?

Recovery times vary depending on a few things, including your health level ahead of the procedure. How fit you are, whether you have any additional medical conditions, how you manage your stress, and your age can all affect your recovery time after bariatric surgery. 

Methods used in your weight loss surgery are important to note, as well. Laparoscopic options will lead to shorter recovery times. Generally, doctors recommend that you limit any physical activity for up to six weeks following bariatric surgery. Patients can often return to work within a week following their procedure if they work in a setting that does not involve much physical activity.


So, Is Bariatric Surgery Reversible?

Bariatric surgery revisions are rare, but they do occur from time to time. In general, most patients should not plan on reversing weight loss surgery. Instead, patients are encouraged to embrace the weight loss possibilities at hand and the bright future on the horizon. That can mean embracing lifelong changes, as well, something your bariatric doctor can support you in navigating. 


Have more questions? Olde Del Mar Surgical is here to help. Reach out to one of our staff’s caring members, and we can give you the information you’re looking for. 

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