Duodenal Switch Bariatric Surgery: Are You a Good Candidate?

Also known as vertical gastrectomy, the duodenal switch procedure is designed to restrict the size of the stomach and reduce the amount of calories that the stomach can absorb at any given time. Duodenal switch procedures are available in the United States and are designed primarily for patients who have a body mass index of 40 or more.
Candidates for this procedure typically need to meet with a registered dietician to address their current and future eating habits, undergo a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation to make sure they are mentally stable and capable of handling the physical changes associated with the procedure, and have an upper endoscopy exam to make sure their stomach is healthy enough for the surgery. If you are considering the duodenal switch procedure for weight loss, consider the following facts about this innovative treatment option:

How the Duodenal Switch Procedure is Performed

The duodenal switch procedure is the only weight loss procedure that has both a restrictive component and a malabsorptive component. The procedure involves removing a part of the stomach – approximately 85 percent of the organ – so that the stomach takes on the shape of a small tube or banana. The next part of the procedure involves the rearrangement of the small intestine so that food cannot be absorbed easily as it makes it through the digestive process.
As a result of the procedure, food simply cannot be digested completely as it is passed through the digestive system. The patient naturally eats less food because they feel fuller from very small amounts of food and fluids that are digested in the shrunken stomach, and then the shortened intestines only absorb a small amount of the food shortly after.
The procedure lasts about three to four hours, and some surgeons break the surgery into two parts so that the patient has some time to recover immediately after the main procedure. People who undergo this extensive procedure typically need to consume only pureed foods and eat a very specialized diet in order to maintain their strength and trigger weight loss. Weight loss typically occurs during the first 12 to 18 months after the procedure.

Best Candidates for the Duodenal Switch Procedure

You may be a good candidate for the duodenal switch procedure if you:
  • Have a body mass index of 40 or higher
  • Have been diagnosed with diabetes and have been advised to lose weight
  • Do not smoke
  • Want to lose about 70 percent of your body weight
  • Do not have a history of high blood pressure
There are some short-term and long-term risks involved with the duodenal switch procedure. These include nutritional deficiencies, chronic diarrhea, risk of infection, blood clots at the surgery site, leakage of the stomach and brittle bone disease as a result of malnutrition.
Learn more about bariatric procedures in our information guide, or consult with a bariatric surgeon in your area to find out if you might be a good candidate for the duodenal switch procedure and other weight loss procedures.