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Minimally Invasive Obesity Surgery

The surgeons and the bariatric surgical team at the University of Chicago Center for the Surgical Treatment of Obesity are among the most experienced and innovative in the world when it comes to laparoscopic obesity surgery. Our surgeons have performed more of these minimally invasive procedures than any other surgeons in the Midwest. In fact, we were:

  • The first to perform laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery in the Chicago area
  • The first--and currently the only--surgeons in the Midwest to perform laparoscopic duodenal switch surgery, which offers hope for the most severely obese patients.

Laparoscopic approaches offer the same potentially life-saving results as traditional open obesity surgery--but with significantly less pain and fewer complications, such as wound infections and hernias. Patients typically return home two to four days after their surgery and usually return to work and other activities significantly earlier than they would after traditional weight loss surgery.

Benefits to Consider

Traditional "open" weight loss surgery requires a single large incision extending from the lower edge of the breastbone down to the belly button, typically 10 to 14 inches in length. In contrast, the laparoscopic technique requires five or six small incisions ranging from 1/4 to 3/4 inches in length.

First, the surgeon inserts a laparoscope, which is a thin tube with a tiny video camera on the end of it, through a 10-millimeter incision in the middle of the abdomen. The surgeon then inserts surgical instruments through the additional incisions to perform the operation. Throughout the surgery, the laparoscope's camera projects a high-resolution, magnified image of the surgical field onto multiple video monitors, allowing the surgeon to perform the procedure safely and with high precision.

Patients from across the country turn to the University of Chicago Medicine for obesity surgery. Our surgeons perform more than 250 obesity surgeries a year, with the great majority done laparoscopically. With their surgical expertise and the strength of a supporting multidisciplinary team, we are able to help many patients who are often considered to be too obese or high risk for laparoscopic weight loss surgery. Another sign of our surgeons' expertise: Their rate of surgical complications is lower than the national norm, despite the larger and higher-risk patients treated at our center.

The University of Chicago Center for the Surgical Treatment of Obesity: A Comprehensive Obesity Surgery Program

The key to the success of our bariatric surgery program is the multidisciplinary approach we take to treating obesity. We have assembled a team of experts who provide unmatched expertise before, during, and after weight loss surgery. In addition to surgeons, our team includes other specially trained physicians, dieticians, nurse practitioners, and a clinical psychologist.

Our program has earned the American Society for Bariatric Surgery's designation as a Center of Excellence -- signifying the highest standards in obesity surgery. Only a select group of bariatric surgery programs in the nation have met the requirements to achieve this important distinction.

Center of Excellence logo

The decision to have obesity surgery is an important and often difficult one. It is important to keep in mind that any bariatric surgical procedure is a tool to help the individual, not a cure. In order to have the best outcomes possible, it is critical to make significant changes in diet and lifestyle following surgery. All of our patients undergo a thorough pre-operative multidisciplinary evaluation to make sure that surgery is the most appropriate--and safest--option for them. In addition to a complete evaluation by our surgeons, patients meet one-on-one with dieticians and psychologists who have specific expertise in the management of obesity. These experts assess whether patients are well suited and well prepared for the surgery. In addition, our expert physicians and nurses follow patients for years after surgery to ensure the best outcomes possible.

Furthermore, patients who have chronic conditions related--or unrelated--to their obesity have access to hundreds of knowledgeable experts. The University of Chicago Hospitals is home to some of the world's most respected specialists in diabetes, heart disease, digestive problems, and other health problems.

World-Class Surgeons

When performed by a skilled surgeon, laparoscopic obesity surgery is a safe and effective treatment for severe obesity. Our surgeons are recognized for their expertise and innovation. In fact, they have taught laparoscopic techniques to other surgeons around the country.

In addition to being recognized for their surgical skill, our physicians are also well known for their research. They are uncovering new approaches to obesity surgery that may benefit patients in the future.

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  • Laparoscopic biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch
  • Laparoscopic adjustable gastric band
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