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Glossary of Bariatric Surgery Terms

Navigating bariatric surgery – the words you need to know

We understand the world of bariatric surgery can be overwhelming and confusing, especially when it comes to understanding the medical jargon. Our goal is to make the journey towards bariatric surgery as smooth and understandable as possible, which is why we have compiled this A to Z list of terms to help you better understand the most commonly used terms in the world of bariatric surgery.

Whether you’re a current patient, considering surgery, or just looking to expand your knowledge, this bariatric surgery glossary is designed to help. 

Absorption

Nutrients, medication and substances taken up by the body from digestive system to bloodstream. Bariatric surgery may affect absorption due to changes in the gastrointestinal tract, requiring supplements or dietary adjustments.

Adipose

Fatty tissue that stores energy, regulates hormones, insulates and cushions the body. Excessive adipose tissue in overweight or obese individuals can lead to health problems. Bariatric surgery can help reduce adipose tissue and associated health risks.

Adjustable gastric banding

Bariatric surgery where a band is placed around the upper part of the stomach, creating a smaller pouch, leading to a feeling of fullness with less food. Band is adjustable to control restriction without invasive procedures. A strict diet and exercise plan are necessary for weight loss maintenance.

Bariatric surgery

Surgical procedures that reduce the size of the stomach or alter the digestive system to promote weight loss.

BMI (Body Mass Index)

A measure of body fat based on height and weight. It’s used to screen if a person is underweight, normal, overweight or obese. BMI assesses health risks associated with excess body fat but not overall health.

Colon

Large intestine that removes water and electrolytes from undigested food matter and forms solid waste. Connected to the small intestine and divided into four main sections. Disorders of the colon include constipation, diarrhea, diverticulitis, and colon cancer.

Comorbidity

Presence of two or more medical conditions in a single individual. In bariatric surgery, comorbidities refer to health problems associated with obesity. Addressing comorbidities is important in the surgery process to achieve weight loss and improvements in overall health.

Dumping syndrome

Symptoms that occur after eating in people who have undergone certain types of bariatric surgery. Food moves too quickly from the stomach to the small intestine, resulting in a rapid release of hormones and drop in blood sugar levels. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, dizziness, and sweating. Avoid high-sugar or high-fat foods and wait at least 30 minutes after eating before drinking fluids.

Duodenal switch

Bariatric surgery that involves sleeve gastrectomy and duodenal switch. The sleeve gastrectomy removes a large portion of the stomach to restrict food intake. The duodenal switch reroutes the small intestine to reduce calorie and nutrient absorption. Can result in significant weight loss and improvements in obesity-related health conditions.

Duodenum

The first part of the small intestine below the stomach, where partially digested food mixes with digestive juices from the pancreas and liver to break down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates for absorption. Disorders can include ulcers, inflammation, and blockages.

Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty

Minimally invasive bariatric procedure that creates a sleeve-like shape in the stomach using sutures placed with an endoscope. It restricts food intake and is less invasive than other bariatric surgeries. Potential risks include bleeding, infection, and the need for lifestyle changes.

Food intolerance

Difficulty digesting certain foods or components of food leading to symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation. Common types include lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, and intolerance to certain additives or preservatives. Bariatric patients may be advised to avoid certain foods to prevent complications.

Gastric balloon surgery

Non-surgical weight loss procedure involving insertion of a deflated balloon into the stomach and inflating it with a saline solution to limit food intake. It remains in the stomach for up to six months and is minimally invasive but has potential risks, such as gastric perforation.

Gastric bypass surgery

A minimally invasive weight loss surgery involving creating a small stomach pouch and rerouting the small intestine to limit food intake and alter calorie and nutrient absorption. Gastric bypass surgery can resolve obesity-related health problems and requires general anesthesia. Risks include bleeding, infection, and bowel obstruction.

Gastric sleeve surgery

A minimally invasive weight loss surgery involving removing a portion of the stomach to create a smaller stomach that limits food intake and helps the patient feel full faster. Gastric sleeve surgery is safe and effective for obese patients or those with obesity-related health problems, but has potential risks such as bleeding and infection.

Hernia

A medical condition where an internal organ or tissue pushes through a weak spot in the surrounding muscle or connective tissue. The most common types are inguinal, hiatal, and incisional hernias. Symptoms may include pain, discomfort, or a bulge, and surgery may be necessary to repair.

Hypertension

High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the force of blood against artery walls is consistently elevated. If left untreated, it can cause serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and vision loss. Risk factors include obesity, smoking, high cholesterol, and family history. Treatment involves lifestyle changes and medication to lower blood pressure, and monitoring blood pressure regularly.

Ileum

The final section of the small intestine is the ileum, which is about 3-4 meters long and absorbs nutrients, water, and electrolytes from partially digested food. It also absorbs fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin B12 and houses immune cells called Peyer’s patches. Inflammation of the ileum, as in Crohn’s disease, can cause symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and malnutrition. Surgical removal of the ileum may be necessary in rare cases, but this can have long-term implications for nutrient absorption and digestion.

Informed consent

A process in which a patient is provided with information about a medical procedure, including its risks and benefits, and gives their consent to undergo the procedure.

Internal hernia

A medical condition that occurs when a portion of the intestine protrudes through an opening in the abdominal cavity and becomes trapped in a space within the abdomen. This can cause obstruction of the intestine and potentially lead to serious complications such as tissue damage or death if left untreated.

Jejunoileal bypass

A surgical procedure that involves rerouting a portion of the small intestine, specifically bypassing the jejunum and ileum, to induce weight loss in severely obese individuals. The procedure was popular in the 1970s but has since been largely abandoned due to complications such as malnutrition, liver failure, and metabolic imbalances.

Jejunum

The jejunum is the middle section of the small intestine, located between the duodenum and the ileum. It is responsible for the majority of nutrient absorption from digested food, including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The jejunum has a rich blood supply and a large surface area lined with tiny finger-like projections called villi, which increase the absorption capacity of the intestine. Certain medical conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, can affect the function of the jejunum and lead to malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies.

Ketosis

Ketosis is when the body uses stored fat as its primary source of energy due to low insulin levels caused by fasting, exercise, or a low-carb diet. It produces ketones that the brain and other organs can use for energy. It can be normal and healthy, but dangerous in untreated diabetes or alcoholism.

Laparoscopic surgery

Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgical technique that uses small incisions and a camera to access and operate on internal organs. It is associated with less pain, scarring, and shorter recovery time compared to traditional open surgery.

Long-term weight loss

Weight loss that is sustained over a period of years following bariatric surgery.

Malabsorption

Malabsorption is the inability of the body to properly absorb nutrients from food, leading to deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients. It can result from a variety of medical conditions, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and pancreatic insufficiency. Symptoms of malabsorption may include diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue. Treatment depends on the underlying cause and may involve dietary changes, medications, and/or supplements.

Morbid obesity

A condition in which a person’s BMI is 40 or higher, or 35 or higher with obesity-related health problems.

Nutrient deficiencies

A condition in which the body does not receive enough of certain essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.

Obesity

Obesity is a medical condition characterised by excess body fat that increases the risk of health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

Obstruction

Obstruction refers to a blockage or partial blockage that prevents normal flow or passage of fluids, gases, or other substances in the body. It can occur in various organs and structures, such as the intestines, airways, or blood vessels, and may be caused by various factors, including tumors, inflammation, or physical obstruction.

Open surgery

A surgical technique that involves making a large incision to access the surgical site.

Post-operative care

Postoperative care refers to the medical attention and support given to a patient after surgery to ensure proper healing, manage pain, prevent complications, and facilitate recovery.

Pre-operative evaluation

A comprehensive medical evaluation that is performed before bariatric surgery to assess a patient’s overall health and determine if they are a good candidate for the procedure.

Pulmonary

Pulmonary refers to the respiratory system, particularly the lungs and related structures.

Quality of life

A measure of a person’s overall well-being, including their physical, emotional, and social health.

Revisional bariatric surgery

A second surgery performed to correct or modify a previous bariatric surgery.

Saxenda

A prescription medicine used for weight management in adults who have obesity or who are overweight and have weight-related medical problems. It is a synthetic form of the hormone GLP-1, which helps to regulate appetite and blood sugar levels. Saxenda is usually administered as a daily injection, and in combination with a healthy diet and increased physical activity, it can help people lose weight and improve their overall health.

Sleeve gastrectomy

A type of bariatric surgery that involves removing a portion of the stomach to create a smaller stomach pouch.

Staples

Medical staples are commonly used in surgery to close wounds or incisions. They are made of stainless steel and resemble small metal staples. The staples are applied using a special stapling device and can be removed once the wound has healed. Medical staples are a quick and effective way to close wounds, and are often preferred over traditional sutures or stitches.

Total gastrectomy

Total gastrectomy is a surgical procedure in which the entire stomach is removed. This procedure is typically done to treat stomach cancer or other medical conditions that affect the stomach. After a total gastrectomy, the patient will need to make significant changes to their diet and lifestyle to compensate for the loss of the stomach. They may also experience long-term complications such as malabsorption and dumping syndrome.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterised by high blood sugar levels resulting from insulin resistance and inadequate insulin secretion. It is typically associated with lifestyle factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, and poor diet. Treatment typically includes lifestyle modifications, medication, and sometimes insulin therapy. Left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to a range of complications, including cardiovascular disease, kidney damage, and nerve damage.

Underlying health conditions

Medical conditions that may contribute to or be worsened by obesity, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and sleep apnea.

Vertical banded gastroplasty

A type of bariatric surgery that involves creating a small stomach pouch and placing a band with staples around the pouch to restrict the amount of food that can be eaten.

Wegovy

A prescription medication used to treat obesity by helping to reduce appetite and food intake. It contains the active ingredient semaglutide, which is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist. Wegovy is administered as a once-weekly injection and is intended to be used in conjunction with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.

Weight loss surgery

Another term for bariatric surgery.

Yo-yo dieting

A pattern of losing weight and then regaining it repeatedly.

Zinc deficiency

A nutrient deficiency that can occur after bariatric surgery due to reduced absorption of zinc from food.

If you’re considering bariatric surgery in Perth, look no further than Perth Bariatric Surgery. The experienced team at Perth Bariatric Surgery is dedicated to helping you achieve your weight loss goals and improve your overall health and quality of life. Contact us today to learn more about our procedures and how we can help you on your weight loss journey.