Duodenal Switch Surgery Benefits and Risks

Duodenal switches are being increasingly performed every day. In the United States alone, almost 20,000 such surgeries are performed every year (Consumer Guide to Bariatric Surgery). However, before going under the knife, physicians ensure that patients are well aware of all the advantages and disadvantages of duodenal switches.


A duodenal switch grants patients a host of benefits that are primarily long-term in nature. A duodenal switch consists of two parts. The first is the reduction of a patient’s functional stomach size whereas the second is a realignment of the small intestines. Both produce the advantages and disadvantages of the surgery.

  • The reduced stomach size ensures that patients feel fuller faster. By feeling full earlier, patients do not consume as much food as they once did.
  • Combining the effects of a small stomach and the realigned small intestines, patients will not consume and absorb as many calories as they once did.
  • The realignment also reduces fat absorption significantly. With almost 80% of a patient’s fat intake not being absorbed, a patient gains very little weight.
  • Due to the reduced absorption, the chance of regaining lost weight substantially decreases.
  • According to the results of “The Biliopancreatic Diversion with the Duodenal Switch: Results Beyond 10 Years,” a successful surgical procedure has a very high chance of curing type 2 diabetes (98%).


As with every procedure, there are always disadvantages. Although they are minimal and manageable, they do exist. The disadvantages of a duodenal switch include:

  • The modified digestive tract necessitates that patients consume nutritional supplements.
  • Without these supplements, especially those of vitamins A, D, E, K and potassium, iron and calcium, patients will feel weak.
  • Gallstones can form due to the rapid reduction in weight. The gall bladder is hence removed.
  • Patients require regular blood tests to ensure optimum levels of essential nutrients.
  • Patients can experience frequent flatulence if their diet changes. However, it can be corrected with a proper diet.
  • The biggest disadvantage of a duodenal switch is that it is an irreversible change. Despite the progressive stomach expansion, the elimination of over 70% of the stomach makes the process an irreversible one.

As evident, even a duodenal switch has its shortcomings. However, considering all the advantages that come with a successful operation and recovery, a duodenal switch is ideally a better bariatric procedure than most others are.

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