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Laparoscopic Bariatric Procedures
Laparoscopic Bariatric Procedures: Physician Section: SAGES Guidelines

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Publication SAGES 30


This guideline was prepared jointly by SAGES and the ASBS



Morbid obesity (also referred to as clinically severe obesity) is recognized as a major public health risk throughout the world. In the U.S.A. alone, over four million people suffer from this chronic disease. Much of the associated morbidity and mortality is related to co-morbid conditions which include, but are not limited to, cardiac disease, diabetes mellitus type II, obstructive sleep apnea, hypertension, dyslipidemia, gastroesophageal reflux disease, stress urinary incontinence, arthritis of the weight bearing joints, infertility and some cancers.

Surgical treatment of morbid obesity has been well established as being safe and effective (1). Both short and long-term improvement of co-morbidities has been well documented (2-7). Medical treatment for this disease has included dietary manipulation, behavior modification and medications. These have been tried singularly and in combinations, but with only limited long-term positive results. The National Institute of Health consensus conference in 1991 established widely accepted guidelines and indications for the surgical management of severe obesity (8). The indications for surgical management of obesity are summarized below.


Surgical therapy should be considered for individuals who:

have a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 40 kg/m2


have a BMI greater than 35 kg/m2 with significant co-morbidities.


can show that dietary attempts at weight control have been ineffective.


The overall care of patients undergoing bariatric surgery (weight reduction surgery) requires programs which address both perioperative care and long-term management. Careful preoperative evaluation and patient preparation are critical. Patients should have a clear understanding of expected benefits, risks, and long term consequences of surgical treatment. Surgeons must be aware of the diagnosis and management of complications specific to bariatric surgery. Patients require appropriate lifelong follow- up with nutritional counseling and biochemical surveillance. Surgeons need to be aware of the needs of severely obese patients in terms of facilities, supplies, equipment, staff and procedures, and should plan the personal time, specialized staff and/or multi-disciplinary referral system as required. This multi- disciplinary approach includes medical management of comorbidities, dietary instruction, exercise training, specialized nursing care and psychological assistance as needed. Post-operative management of co-morbidities should be directed by the practitioner familiar with the operation performed and the changes created.


Bariatric surgical procedures are divided into two types, restrictive and malabsorptive. With either type of procedure, follow up is imperative to monitor for potential serious sequelae and operative failure. These operations should only be done performed within the confines of an obesity treatment Bariatric program intent on maintaining long-term follow-up as well as long-term outcomes evaluation.

The operations which have been most frequently performed are the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, vertical banded gastroplasty, the biliopancreatic diversion (BPD) and it's variations, and the various gastric banding procedures (9-13). At the time of this writing, the adjustable silicone gastric banding is limited in its use under FDA protocol. The NIH conference of 1991 recognized the vertical banded gastroplasty and gastric bypass procedures as acceptable procedures based on available outcome data. (8)

Minimally invasive techniques have been used in bariatric surgery since 1993. (14, 15). Laparoscopic bariatric procedures rely on videoscopic technologies to allow surgeons to perform accepted bariatric operations in a minimally invasive fashion. The benefits of a laparoscopic approach appear to be similar to those realized with laparoscopic cholecystectomy, including but not limited to a shorter recovery with an earlier return to normal activity. In addition, wound complications such infections, hernias and dehiscences appear to be significantly reduced.

The indications for laparoscopic treatment of obesity are the same as for open surgery, as and have been outlined earlier in this document. Not all patients are suitable for laparoscopic bariatric surgery, and conversion to an open bariatric procedure is sometimes necessary. Surgeons must have the skills, experience and equipment necessary to convert to and perform open bariatric operations.

Virtually all bariatric operations can be performed with laparoscopic techniques, although advanced laparoscopic skills are required (14-20). For safe and effective laparoscopic treatment of obesity, advanced laparoscopic skills, such as intracorporeal knot tying, use of angled scopes to achieve multiple viewing angles, and two-handed organ and tissue manipulation are required. Therefore, appropriate training in advanced laparoscopic techniques is mandatory. These skills are most appropriately acquired through a residency, fellowship, or courses which detail the indications for bariatric procedures, the various operative approaches -both open and laparoscopic, and the advanced skills necessary to perform these operations. Additionally, the long-term care of these patients needs to emphasized and taught. Before attempting such a procedure independently, the surgeon should be preceptored by a surgeon experienced in the techniques. Finally, these procedures require a well-trained operating team familiar with the equipment, instruments and techniques of bariatric surgery.


Morbid obesity is a significant health concern. Medical management fails to sustain weight loss, and management of the co-morbidities is expensive and often ineffective. Bariatric surgery currently provides the only significant, sustained weight loss. Laparoscopic techniques, based on their "open" counterparts, are available. When performed by appropriately trained surgeons, laparoscopic approaches appear to hasten the patient's recovery and return to normal function. Experience and training in bariatric surgery, advanced laparoscopic surgery skills, and a commitment to long-term patient management are required.


  1. Kellum JM, DeMaria EJ, Sugerman HJ. The surgical treatment of morbid obesity. Current Problems in Surgery 1998 ;35: 796-851
  2. McGoey BV, Deitel M, Saplys RFJ et al. Effect of weight loss on musculoskeletal pain in the morbidly obese. J Bone Joint Surg (Br) 1990; 72-B: 322-3
  3. Charuzi I, Ovnat A, Peiser J et al. The effect of surgical weight reduction on sleep quality in obesity-related sleep apnea syndrome. Surgery 1985; 97: 535-8.
  4. Herrera MF, Deitel M. Cardiac function in massively obese patients and the effect of weightloss. Can J Surg 1991; 34: 431-4.
  5. Pories WJ, MacDonald KG, FlickingerEG, et al: Is type II diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) a surgical disease? Ann Surg 1992;215:633-643.
  6. Deitel M, Stone E, Kassam HA et al. Gynecologic-obstetric changes after loss of massive excess weight following bariatric surgery. J Am Coll Nutr 1988; 7: 147-53.
  7. Carson JL, Ruddy ME, Duff AE et al. The effect of gastric bypass surgery on hypertension in morbidly obese patients. Arch Intern Med 1994; 154: 193-200.
  8. Gastrointestinal surgery for severe obesity: National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference Statement. Am J Clin Nutr 1992; 55: 615S-9S.
  9. Mason EE, Doherty C, Cullen JJ et al. Vertical banded gastroplasty: evolution. World J Surg 1998; 22: 919-24.
  10. Linner JH, Drew RL. Why the operation we prefer is the Roux-Y gastric bypass. Obes Surg 1991; 1: 305-6.
  11. Scopinaro N, Adami GF, Marinari GM et al. Biliopancreatic diversion. World J Surg 1998; 22: 936-46.
  12. Lagace M, Marceau P, Marceau S et al. Biliopancreatic diversion with a new type of gastrectomy: some previous conclusions revisited. Obes Surg 1995; 1: 411-18.
  13. Kuzmak LI. A review of 7 years experience with silicone gastric banding for morbid obesity. Obes Surg 1991; 1: 403-08
  14. Wittgrove AC, Clark GW, Schubert KR .Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass, Roux-en-Y: and results in 75 patients with 3-30 months follow-up. Obes Surg 1997; 6:500-504.
  15. Belachew M, Legrand M, Vincent V, Lismonde M, LeDocte N, Deschamps V. Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding. World J Surg 1998: 22: 955-63.
  16. Chua TY, Mendiola RM. Laparoscopic vertical banded gastroplasty: the Milwaukee experience. Obes Surg 1995; 5: 636-38.
  17. Lonroth H, Dalenback J, Haglind E et al. Laparoscopic bypass: another option in bariatric surgery. Surg Endosc 1996; 6: 500-04.
  18. Wittgrove AC, Clark GW. Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass: a 5 year prospective study of 500 patients from 3-60 months. Obes Surg 2000; 10: June (in press).
  19. Schauer PR, Ikramuddin S, Gourash W, Ramanathan R, Luketich J. Outcomes after laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass for morbid obesity. Ann Surg 2000: Oct. (in press).
  20. Catona A, La Manna L, Forsell P. The Swedish adjustable gastric band: laparoscopic technique and preliminary results. Obes Surg 2000; 10: 15-21.

This statement was reviewed and approved by the Boards of Governors of the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) and the American Society for Bariatric Surgery (ASBS) May, 2000. It was prepared jointly by members of SAGES and ASBS.

Requests for reprints should be sent to:

Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES)
2716 Ocean Park Boulevard, Suite 3000
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Tel: (310) 314-2404
Fax: (310) 314-2585

SAGES Publication #30


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