The Duodenal Switch

One of the more complex weight loss procedures we perform here at the St.Vincent Bariatric Center of Excellence is the Duodenal Switch.

The Duodenal Switch is similar to the Roux-en-Y in that it is both a restrictive and malabsorptive procedure—which means that it limits the amount of food a person can consume, and it limits the absorption of calories consumed.

To explain how the Duodenal Switch works, it’s important to understand a few basic elements of human anatomy:

  • The stomach is where food is collected and mixed with enzymes that help break the food down into a substance the body can absorb—absorption does not occur in the stomach.
  • The small intestine is where the body continues to digest and begins to absorb nutrients and calories.

So the Duodenal Switch works like this:

  • A significant portion of the stomach is removed, essentially turning the stomach into a sleeve—this limits the amount of food a person can consume.
  • A small portion of the duodenum—the first part of the small intestine—is left at the base of the stomach.
  • The duodenum is then reconnected to the small intestine closer to the large intestine—allowing the food coming out of the stomach to bypass the majority of the small intestine.

Because of the nature of this procedure, the consumed food mixes with minimal enzymes, and spends little time in the small intestine—drastically decreasing calorie absorption.

As with any surgery, it is critical that the patients follow their doctor’s instructions. Whether it’s about vitamins, food intake, or physical exertion, the doctor has the patients’ best interest in mind—and the instructions are in place for the patients’ long-term success.


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