Skipping a step in the digestive process

Weight loss surgery can be done in two ways—restrictive and malabsorptive. Restrictive surgeries, like a sleeve gastrectomy, limit how much food your stomach can hold after a meal. Malabsorptive surgeries, like gastric bypass, make it harder for your body to absorb fat and calories from the food you eat.

Duodenal switch surgery does both. This surgery removes part of the stomach, so you feel full after eating only a small amount of food. It also speeds up your digestive process so that your body has less time to absorb fat and calories.

How does duodenal switch surgery work?

In normal digestion, food moves from the stomach to the small intestine. The beginning of the small intestine is called the duodenum. In the duodenum, your body mixes the partially digested food from your stomach with juices from your liver and pancreas. This is when your body absorbs most of the nutrients—and fats—from the food you eat.

During duodenal switch surgery (also called “biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch” or “gastric reduction duodenal switch”) surgeons rearrange the intestine so that the food from your stomach and the juices from your liver spend less time mixing.

Since these digestive juices mix for a much shorter time, your body absorbs much less fat. With a smaller stomach to hold food and a shorter digestive process, duodenal switch surgery can result in significant weight loss.

What to expect from duodenal switch surgery

Duodenal switch surgery is usually a laparoscopic procedure. This means our surgeons can do the surgery with small tools inserted through a few tiny incisions in your abdomen.

Any weight loss surgery is not an easy fix—you’ll need to dramatically change the way you eat after the procedure. Our surgeons usually only recommend duodenal switch for those with a BMI over 50. If you’re considering bariatric surgery, our team can help you decide which procedure is right for you.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.