Duodenal Switch Surgery, What to Know Going In

By: Jamie Reilly

Not scientifically reviewed by Dr. Eeks


In the past few years, weight loss surgeries have become increasingly popular. When people fail to control weight despite dietary changes and regular exercise, they may opt for surgical intervention. An individual comes across several types of surgical intervention, but duodenal switch surgery is the most popular one. It’s been in practice for decades but has become increasingly popular as the procedures are more cost effective as well as less invasive. Duodenal switch surgery helps patients lose considerable weight in the first few months and continue to do so over the next few years.

Duodenal Switch Surgical Method

The surgery involves the creation of a sleeve gastrectomy for food restriction and appetite control. It is followed by rerouting the intestine, like gastric bypass surgery. Duodenal switch surgery involves the common channel, which refers to the distance between the bile and the end of the small intestine. The distance is pivotal depending on the conditions of every patient. It is also the area that regulates the malabsorption amount. Surgeons create a 300cm common channel in patients. Because of the elevated vitamin supplement, patients might experience an increase in their bowel movements.

Steps Involved in the Surgery

The first step involves creating a sleeve along the exterior stomach curve with the help of a surgical stapler.

  • Once the surgeons create the new stomach, they eliminate the excess stomach.
  • The valve situated at the stomach’s outlets remains intact. It allows the natural process of feeling hungry and full.
  • The small intestine is handled carefully from the bottom of the large intestine, divided, and reorganized to promote restricted absorption.
  • Food enters the sleeve and gets stored with the pylorus, similar to a sleeve. It is one of the reasons why dumping syndrome doesn’t occur like the gastric bypass surgery.

The duodenal switch surgery has a high success rate and is the reason why surgeons prefer it over other weight loss surgeries.

Expectations Post Surgery

Recovery Process

Duodenal switch surgery doesn’t last more than 2.5 hours. Most patients recover within three to four weeks and start with their day-to-day routine. A vital part of the recovery process involves patients getting accustomed to eating solid food. Immediately after the surgery, patients consume a strict liquid diet. It is followed by pureed food and finally switch to solid foods.

Some patients might struggle to consume the liquid diet immediately post-surgery because of the swelling around the small bowel and the stomach. It necessitates the patient to stay in the hospital and take drips to avoid dehydration.

Compliance with nutrition is mandatory after the duodenal switch surgery. Following a strict diet is an essential aspect of the surgery. If a patient fails to abide by the guidelines, the outcome is malnutrition. It leads to sudden bowel changes, which is uncomfortable and upsets the quality of life.

Hospital Stay

The hospital stay for the surgery is not more than 48 hours unless there are complications. Some patients resume normal activities after a week, but lifting heavy weights is restricted for a month. The maximum weight loss happens during the first 12 months to 18 months after the duodenal switch surgery. Based on clinical evidence, patients lose around 75% of their present weight and 40% of their BMI.

Minor Side Effects

Like all surgical interventions, the duodenal switch surgery triggers minor side effects, which are manageable. The mild short-term side effects are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Unable to eat properly
  • Minor wound infection
  • Anesthesia reaction
  • Tiredness
  • Mood swings
  • Bleeding

Pain is a common side effect like other surgeries. The surgeon prescribes painkillers to deal with the pain and make them as comfortable as possible. Depending on the pain threshold, every individual experiences different pain levels.


Weight loss varies from one person to the other but there are some universal trends. The maximum weight loss after the duodenal switch surgery happens within the first three months. Studies reveal that patients lose almost 30% of their excess body weight. It is followed by a gradual weight loss, and within 12 to 18 months, patients experience 65% to 75% weight loss. The highlight of the duodenal switch surgery is that it is a safe and effective procedure. Because of the high success rate, more surgeons and patients favor the surgical method.

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