3 Alternatives to Gastric Bypass Surgery

May 7th 2016

Gastric bypass surgery is a radical option only recommended for the morbidly obese who have tried multiple other methods for losing weight. Speak to a qualified medical practitioner about some of the alternatives if you wish to lose less than 100 pounds or have any underlying health issues that may increase the risks associated with surgery.

Transoral Sleeve Gastroplasty

For those patients who have tried other weight loss methods and believe that surgery is the only viable option, a less radical alternative to a bypass is transoral sleeve gastroplasty. It makes use of endoscopic suturing to reduce stomach capacity by 80 percent. Because it is less invasive and less extreme, the risks of micronutrient deficiencies are lower than with gastric bypass surgery. As an outpatient operation, the surgical risks and overall expense are also reduced.

The device is not permanent, and the procedure can be reversed if necessary. Ideally, this just entails that it is adjusted to suit the patient's needs throughout the process of weight loss. Mayo Clinic, for example, describes it as being more like orthodontics than a temporary fix.

Pharmacological Options

While there is no magic bullet medication for weight loss, several therapies, originally developed for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, have shown good results for weight loss. These include drugs that affect the actions of hormones to reduce appetite, such as dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors and amylin mimetics, as well as drugs such as Orlistat that reduce fat absorption. It's important to discuss these options with a qualified physician, as there can be side effects. The effects of the drugs may not be the same for all patients. Your own doctor will have the best idea of how medication may work for you.


A less-medicalized and less invasive response to obesity is gastric band hypnosis, also known as a virtual gastric band. A hypnotherapist talks the patient, who is placed in a suggestive state, through the procedure of a gastric bypass as though the patient were experiencing it himself, and follows this with suggestions of reduced appetite and lowered desire to eat. To complete the program, approximately three follow-up sessions focus on eating behaviors, psychological blocks to weight loss and methods for coping with cravings.

Hypnotherapy is noninvasive, so it does not carry any surgical risks; it also has none of the side effects of medication. Not all people are suitable for hypnosis. Adhering to the program requires significant commitment on the part of the patient, including the will to deal with the psychological issues connected with overeating.


While morbid obesity can be a life-threatening condition, gastric bypass surgery, which severely limits the size of the stomach and reduces the usable portion of the intestines to prevent calorie absorption, is a high-risk procedure with ongoing side effects. Although gastric bypass surgery generally results in weight loss, cheaper and less radical alternatives may help to reduce weight without the same level of potential danger.

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