Duodenal Switch: Disadvantages


  • The primary disadvantage to the Duodenal Switch is the amount of time the operation takes to complete. Statistically speaking, the longer you have to be under anesthesia, the greater the risk for complications during the surgery. Typically a DS takes between three and six hours, but can extend upwards of eight hours.

  • There are far fewer qualified DS surgeons practicing throughout the world than surgeons that perform other weight loss surgeries. Great care must be taken to make sure you have chosen a skilled surgeon as this surgery is much more complicated and takes considerably longer to complete than other forms of weight loss surgery.
  • Many DS surgeons choose to perform this as an “open” procedure rather than laparoscopically in attempt to reduce the length of time needed to complete the procedure. Studies have shown that the human body responds and recovers from non invasive surgery types much better than “open” surgeries. The decreased risk attained from a shorter length surgery as a result of an open procedure may not exceed the benefit of non invasive surgery. Ideally, you should attempt to find a qualified DS surgeon who is comfortable and experienced enough at performing laparoscopic surgeries that they can complete the surgery in a period of time that is not substantially longer than their “open” counterparts.
  • The partial gastrectomy component of the DS cannot be reversed. Once the greater curvature of the stomach is removed it is gone and cannot be reattached or rebuilt. The “new” stomach will stretch to approximately 2/3rd its original size over time, but will never regain its pre-surgery size or proportions.
  • The DS malabsorptive component yields a significant chance of protein deficiency, anemia, and metabolic bone disease if the diet is not properly maintained and supplemented with vitamins and minerals. It is absolutely crucial that post surgery dietary instructions are followed. Patients should have blood work and other labs checked on a regular basis following surgery so that any deficiencies can be detected and corrected before they cause adverse effects on the patient’s body.
  • The DS has the potential to cause patients to experience gas or flatulence. This occurrence is usually triggered by certain foods in varying quantities. This is an individual response that does not occur in all DS patients. Patients that experience increased gas can usually control this by learning their tolerance for foods that trigger this response. Many patients report that they have completely eliminated this side effect by supplementing probiotic substances into their diet on a daily basis.
  • The DS has the potential to cause loose stools. This effect is triggered, in most cases, by the consumption of foods that are extremely high in fats. Since a large percentage of consumed fat is not absorbed in the common channel of the DS, it will often times pass unprocessed through the digestive system causing loose stools. Patients’ tolerance for high fat foods will vary from patient to patient. This effect can also result from dehydration and occurs with significantly less frequency in patients that consume at least 64 ounces of water per day.
  • This surgery is not as ‘readily approved’ as some other types of weight loss surgery. It is very important when considering the DS to check your insurance policy regarding weight loss surgery, the pre approval process, and if possible speak to a representative.