weight loss surgery differences
Making the decision to have weight loss surgery is huge. But even when you are certain that this is what you need to do, it can be overwhelming to move forward. Our
surgeon and staff will be with you every step along the way, but we know that many patients like to be as informed as possible about their options. 

In this post, we will take a closer look at three of our most common procedures to discuss differences, advantages, disadvantages, and more. 

Differences between our three most popular weight loss surgery options

One thing we hear often is that patients want to have the least invasive surgery possible. As our name suggests — Birmingham Minimally Invasive Surgery — all of our options are indeed minimally invasive. Our three most common procedures are gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and LAP-BAND. We perform each of these laparoscopically, which requires only four to six tiny incisions and less than two hours in the operating room.

Gastric Sleeve

During gastric sleeve surgery, we basically cut away the top and largest part of the stomach, which is called the fundus. About ⅔ of the stomach is removed. The removed section is where the hunger hormone, ghrelin, lives. If you’ve heard someone say they are never hungry after gastric sleeve surgery, it is because we have removed the hormone completely. Some people find this benefit more appealing than others. The combination of removing the hunger hormone and a large portion of the stomach typically leads to significant weight loss.

Who’s a good candidate for gastric sleeve? If using insurance to cover the procedure, you must have a minimum BMI of 35 to 40, along with various other health issues, such as diabetes, sleep apnea, or heart disease. If your BMI is higher than 40, these other health issues are not required. Gastric sleeve is a good option for anyone meeting these requirements without insurance coverage as well. Because the procedure has been shown to be acid inducing, anyone with severe acid reflux disease should probably avoid this option.

What are the benefits of gastric sleeve as opposed to other weight loss surgeries? Compared to other options, gastric sleeve is a simpler procedure. We do not reroute the intestines like we do during gastric bypass, and we do not put in a foreign body like we do with the LAP-BAND. It’s a quick procedure that involves cutting 2/3 of the stomach away, leaving a very small, banana-sized stomach.

Gastric Bypass

With gastric bypass (also called Roux-en-Y), we create a very small stomach pouch that restricts food intake. A Y-shaped section of the small intestine is attached to the pouch and allows food to bypass the lower stomach — the duodenum (the first segment of the small intestine) and the first portion of the jejunum (the second segment of the small intestine). This reduces the amount of food you can take in because your stomach holds only one to two ounces. This also decreases the absorption of food and nutrients, which aids in weight loss as well.

Who’s a good candidate for gastric bypass? Gastric bypass is often a better option for our heavier patients because most will lose up to 80% of their excess body weight as opposed to about 60% with gastric sleeve. This rapid weight loss can be very beneficial for those who have more severe health issues, such as sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It’s also a good option for anyone with severe acid reflux or poorly controlled diabetes since gastric bypass has proven to cure both. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of gastric bypass? Some people like knowing that gastric bypass is technically considered reversible. However, this is something we always want to avoid, because reversal will cause you to gain the weight back. After surgery, you do have to take nutritional and vitamin supplements for life because of the malabsorption of food and nutrients.

We hear that people often have the impression that gastric bypass is more invasive than other options, but we take a minimally invasive approach. We typically make six incisions, and it’s done completely laparoscopically. It is a little more labor intensive because we do change your anatomy.  


With this procedure, we place the LAP-BAND, a foreign body made of a special material, near the top of the stomach where it meets the esophagus. This creates a very small pouch that empties into the larger remaining portion of the stomach. The band is connected to a port, which is located underneath the skin of the abdomen. This is how we put fluid in the band, which allows us to make the band opening larger or smaller in size, giving patients more or less restriction.

Who’s a good candidate for the LAP-BAND? Many patients prefer the LAP-BAND because it is not permanent. We are not changing the anatomy of the stomach, and we can take the LAP-BAND out if the patient chooses to do so. It can be a good option for those paying out of pocket, because the cost is less than other options. It’s one of our more cost effective procedures.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the LAP-BAND? With the LAP-BAND, weight loss may be somewhat slower than with other options. We have to find that “happy place” where the patient is able to get food down but also able to maintain smaller portion sizes. This is where band adjustments come into play.

Weight loss surgery with and without insurance

The role your insurance plays may be a big factor in which weight loss procedure is best for you. Many insurance companies have a BMI requirement for each surgery that you will need to meet in order to be a candidate. If you will be paying out of pocket, the cost of the procedure will likely play a major role in your decision. 

With all three of these weight loss procedures, the goal is for you to lose weight and become healthier, hopefully eliminating or reducing the severity of other health issues. But you must remember that no weight loss surgery option is a magic fix for permanent weight loss. While these procedures will certainly help, diet and exercise will still be important.

Contact Us to Learn More About Gastric Bypass Surgery

Birmingham Minimally Invasive Surgery is a caring group of professionals who specialize in all types of bariatric surgery.  Our surgeon Dr. Jay Long has highly specialized training in bariatric surgery, having completed a fellowship in minimally invasive and bariatric surgery at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, where he focused on taking care of patients that are morbidly obese.  And we are so proud of our pricing that we publish the costs right on the front page of our website!  Insurance won’t pay?  We have a variety of financing options we can offer you so that you are able to get the healthy body you’ve wanted for years.  Visit us today at http://www.bmisurgery.com/ or give us a call to set up a consultation at 205-833-6907.