Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'




AARP Real Possibilities


Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 


ATM Mobile App for iPhone and Ipad

Enjoy the best of AARP’s award-winning publications

on the go with the new

AARP ePubs iPad App


AARP Games - Play Now!


Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.


Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.



Heart Disease


Most Popular



share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

Before and After Weight-Loss Surgery

Gastric bypass, banding are options for obesity

Bariatric surgery to lose weight. Before and after pictures of Al Roker, Roseanne Barr and Star Jones.

Celebrities such as Al Roker, Roseanne Barr and Star Jones have used bariatric surgery to battle obesity.

En español | After years of struggling to lose weight, Julie Hartje, 58, decided it was time for desperate measures. Almost 100 pounds too heavy, she knew that being obese put her at increased risk of heart disease, which runs in her family. And she'd already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, almost certainly a consequence of being too fat.

Sign up for AARP's Health Newsletter.

Last fall, Hartje underwent gastric bypass surgery. "I didn't feel like I had a choice," says Hartje, who lives in Beloit, Wis.

One of several forms of bariatric (weight-loss) surgery, gastric bypass is the most complicated. Surgeons create an egg-size pouch out of the stomach, reconnecting it to the small intestine. The operation restricts how much food people can eat and also bypasses portions of the intestine that absorb food, so some fats and sugars pass through without being digested. The surgery reduces the size of the stomach — so people feel full on much less food — and changes the way the body absorbs nutrients.

Better health, longer life

Some 220,000 bariatric surgeries were performed in the United States last year. And while surgery may appear to be an extreme method for addressing America's growing weight problem, three decades after researchers began to track an epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes, many experts say that it is the only reliable treatment. Dieting and exercise may work for a small percentage of people. "But studies show that most people long-term lose only a few pounds," says Nestor Villamizar, M.D., a bariatric surgeon at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

Gastric bypass surgery, on the other hand, can cause people to lose 80 percent or more of their excess weight. And to the surprise of many researchers, this surgery reverses type 2 diabetes in many patients — often immediately after surgery, before they begin to lose weight. Among obese patients with type 2 diabetes who undergo gastric bypass surgery, studies show that 86 percent see significant improvements in blood sugar control. In 78 percent, the signs of diabetes vanish entirely. No other treatment for this potentially deadly disease has been shown to work as well.

The operation also has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels and relieve obstructive sleep apnea, a common breathing problem associated with obesity. It can even help the heart. A recent report from researchers at the Medical College of Georgia showed that, after gastric bypass surgery, enlarged hearts often return to more normal shape and function.

Next: Who should be considered for bariatric surgery? >>

Photo above: Steven Freeman/Getty Images; Jason LaVeris/Getty Images; D.Kambouris/Getty Images; Stephanie Pfriender/Corbis Outline; Michael Grecco/Getty Images; AP Photo/Jeff Christensen

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Health Blog

Discounts & Benefits

bring health To Life-Visual MD

AARP bookstore

AARP Bookstore - woman reaches for book on bookshelf


Find titles on brain health, drug alternatives, nutrition and losing weight. Do