Written By: Emma Squillace

If you’ve been looking into bariatric surgery, you’ve likely come across the term “laparoscopic”. Laparoscopic is a surgical technique that is used in many types of operations, but is particularly well-suited for bariatric surgeries like the gastric sleeve and gastric bypass. Today will cover what this important term means, and why it’s important to you if you’re thinking about having a surgical procedure for weight loss.

History of bariatric surgery

According to the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric surgery, the first operations for weight loss were done in 1950s. The operation done at this time is one you may not have heard of. It’s an operation that did produce substantial weight loss, but also was found to result in significant vitamin and nutritional deficiencies, causing major side effects for many. This operation was called the ‘jejunoileal bypass’, and it is not performed today because of the side effects.

In the 1960s, doctors first started performing the gastric bypass – an operation that led to successful weight loss for many people, without the same serious side effects. Today a gastric bypass remains one of the most common bariatric surgery procedures, although today’s operation is a little different than it was in the 1960s. When doctors first started doing a gastric bypass, they performed their surgeries “open”.  An open operation is when a surgeon makes one large incision and physically opens up your body to perform the operation. The gastric bypass was performed this way for several decades. Although patients were seeing good weight loss results, there were surgical improvements that would come later.

Introduction of laparoscopic bariatric surgery

In 1994, the first gastric bypass was performed a laparoscopically. This means that instead of making one large incision, the surgeons were able to perform the same operation, but with several very small incisions instead. Because of advances in surgical tools, the same operation could be done with tools that fit through very thin incisions – some less than 1 cm – changing the way we would do bariatric surgery from then on.  While patients who had opened bariatric surgery versus those who had a laparoscopic bariatric surgery did not have different success rates in terms losing weight, surgeons found some substantial benefits to laparoscopic surgery.

Benefits of laparoscopy

In general, the benefits of laparoscopic surgery come from the fact that the incisions are much smaller, and the body does not need to be opened up. While every case is different, both research and our experience at West Medical show that patients who have laparoscopic surgery tend to have less pain and shorter recovery time than patients who have open surgeries. Additionally, these patients spend less time in the hospital on average, and see a lower risk of infection. Furthermore, because of the small incisions, there is ususlly less blood loss with laparoscopic operations. And finally, as you would expect, patients who have laparoscopic surgery have notably smaller scars than patients who have open operations.

Surgery techniques today

Today, the majority of bariatric surgery is performed laparoscopically. If you are interested in learning about surgical weight-loss options, when you come in from consultation we will talk to you about whether or not laparoscopic surgery is a good option for you. We are able to perform almost all of our operations with laparoscopic techniques, instead of open. This includes the sleeve, bypass, lap band, and even bariatric surgery revisions.

If you are considering bariatric surgery and have questions about laparoscopic techniques, the healing process, or recovery – we are happy to speak with you. If you’d like to come in and talk to us more about weight loss and bariatric surgery, please give us a call at (855) 690-0565.

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