Key Bariatric Terms

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The following definitions will give you a greater understanding of many terms associated with weight loss surgery and morbid obesity.

Bariatric Surgery: Also known as weight loss surgery and obesity surgery. This type of surgery is performed for the treatment of morbidly obese individuals. Bariatric surgery aims to restrict or reduce the size of the stomach, allowing the patient to “feel full” after eating much less food than would usually be consumed. This helps to facilitate weight loss.

Body Mass Index (BMI): A number that’s calculated based on an individual’s height and weight. A BMI between 18 and 25 is considered normal. A BMI over 25 suggests that the individual is overweight, while 30-39 represents obesity. A BMI of 40+ suggests severe obesity. Am I Obese?

Ideal Weight: A concept that relates body weight to health and longevity (length of one’s life) developed from life insurance statistics. A BMI of less than 26 is considered a person’s ideal weight. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30-39 while morbid obesity is defined as a BMI greater than 40.

Morbid Obesity: A magnitude of obesity that qualifies someone for weight loss surgery. Individuals are considered morbidly obese when they are approximately 100 pounds or more over their ideal weight, or have a BMI of 40 or greater.

Comorbidities: Medical illnesses and/or diseases that are either caused by or contributed to by morbid obesity. These include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and arthritis (to name a few). Presence of these comorbidities lowers the weight threshold for surgical treatment from a BMI of 40+ to 35+.

Gastric Banding: An operation that places an adjustable plastic band around the upper stomach, dividing it into a tiny pouch above the band with the remaining stomach below. Common brand names for this adjustable band are LAP-BAND® and the REALIZE® band. Read More

Gastric Bypass: The most common (and often most successful) bariatric operation performed in the United States. The stomach is stapled closed with a tiny remnant of stomach (the pouch) connected to the upper intestine. Read More

Gastric Sleeve: A relatively new and irreversible operation that surgically removes more than 80% of the stomach. The remaining stomach has the appearance of a “sleeve.” The medical term for this procedure is sleeve gastrectomy. Read More

Laparoscopy: A minimally invasive surgical procedure in which the surgeon gains access to the abdominal cavity by way of 4 to 6 small incisions in the abdominal wall. An instrument called a laparoscope is used to give the surgeon an exceptionally clear view of the inside of the abdominal cavity. This surgical approach is considered “minimally invasive” because of the very small incisions used.

Stomach Stapling: A general, generic term that is not used by most bariatric surgeons because it tends to be too nonspecific. Many types of bariatric operations involve stapling the stomach.