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Duodenal Switch Surgery: Is It Right for You?

January 13, 2021 | Bariatric Surgery

Carrying excess weight strains your overall health. Comorbidities connected to obesity include diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea and stroke. However, losing the amount of weight necessary to improve your health may require a physician’s help. If obesity drastically impedes everyday life or becomes a severe health threat, you may actually require surgery.

Duodenal Switch (DS) Surgery

“The duodenal switch is a bariatric operation — a surgery that’s really the most effective of the surgeries we have for weight loss—both in terms of the amount of weight patients can lose and also in terms of resolving or improving the comorbidities,” says Dr. Michael Bilof, bariatric surgeon and founder of Garden State Bariatrics and Wellness Center.

Duodenal refers to part of the small intestine. This two-part surgery consists of a gastric sleeve and an intestinal restructure. Two-thirds to three-fourths of the intestine is bypassed.

Are You a DS Surgery Candidate?

There are two groups who are ideal candidates for this procedure. First, type-2 diabetics may find that DS surgery is most effective at improving their diabetic condition. Some patients have completely resolved their diabetes after the surgery. This means no more insulin injections, no more pills and no more finger prick tests. The decision to have the surgery also depends on other factors that should be discussed with your physician.

Second, patients who have a body mass index (BMI) over 50 are candidates. BMI is the ratio of height to weight. According to Dr. Bilof, DS surgery has presented much success with these patients.

Operation & Outcome

DS surgery is performed via laparoscopic means. The small incisions that result are typically one-quarter inch to one-and-one-half inches long. Hospital stay is one or two nights, on average, but that all depends on individual tests, blood work and recovery. Most patients miss work for two to three weeks as the body heals.

It’s impossible to predict how much weight you will lose after surgery. Most patients shed between two-thirds and three-fourths of their excess body weight. Dr. Bilof reminds patients that it’s not two-thirds of total body weight—just the excess.

Post-Operative Success

There are a few things to keep in mind for ensuring the greatest success after your DS surgery. Patients are sensitive to fatty foods and consumption of high-fat foods can cause diarrhea and other digestive distress. Dr. Bilof advises a strict adherence to the post-surgical nutrition plan.

Patients also require lifelong vitamin supplementation due to the restructuring of the digestive system and intestinal bypass.

If you’re considering this procedure, it may be helpful to enlist the help of a dietician or nutritionist prior to surgery in order to fully understand the dietary considerations.

*To listen to an interview with Dr. Michael Bilof, bariatric surgeon and founder of Garden State Bariatrics and Wellness Center, please follow this link:

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