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A young woman snacks on a plate of assorted fruits to help improve her digestive health.

What is digestive surgery?

Digestive surgery is a type of surgical procedure that is performed on the digestive system, which includes the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. The goal of digestive surgery is to treat various conditions that affect the digestive system, such as ulcers, tumors, inflammation, and other disorders.

There are different types of digestive surgeries, including:

  • Gastric bypass surgery involves dividing the stomach into two sections and rerouting the small intestine to the new stomach pouch to help with weight loss.
  • Appendectomy surgically removes the appendix.
  • Cholecystectomy surgically removes the gallbladder.
  • Colectomy surgically removes part or all of the colon.
  • Esophagectomy surgically removes part or all of the esophagus.


A surgeon can perform digestive surgery using minimally invasive techniques, such as laparoscopy or robotic surgery, resulting in less pain, shorter recovery time, and smaller scars than traditional open surgery. However, not all digestive surgeries can be performed using minimally invasive techniques, and the choice of surgery depends on the specific condition being treated and the patient's individual needs.

What are the benefits of digestive surgery?

  • Relief from symptoms: Digestive surgery can help alleviate symptoms such as pain, discomfort, and difficulty eating or digesting food.
  • Improved quality of life: Treating digestive conditions with surgery can improve a person's quality of life by allowing them to eat and drink more comfortably and engage in activities that may have been limited by their condition.
  • Prevention of complications: Surgery can prevent or reduce the risk of complications associated with certain digestive conditions, such as bleeding, obstruction, and infection.
  • Weight loss: Some digestive surgeries, such as gastric bypass surgery, can lead to significant weight loss, which can improve overall health and reduce the risk of obesity-related conditions.
  • Improved long-term outcomes: In some cases, surgery may provide better long-term results compared to non-surgical treatments, such as medication or lifestyle changes.

What are the risks of digestive surgery?

  • Bleeding: Bleeding can occur during or after surgery and, in some cases, may require additional surgery or blood transfusions.
  • Infection: There is a risk of disease with any surgical procedure, which can range from mild to severe and may require additional treatment.
  • Damage to nearby organs or structures: In some cases, digestive surgery may inadvertently damage nearby organs or systems, such as blood vessels, nerves, or the bladder.
  • Adverse reactions to anesthesia: Some people may experience an allergic reaction to anesthesia or have other adverse reactions, such as nausea or vomiting.
  • Blood clots: Surgery and anesthesia can increase the risk of blood clots, which can be life-threatening if they travel to the lungs or other vital organs.
  • Complications related to the surgical site: Depending on the type of surgery, there may be a risk of complications associated with the surgical site, such as hernias, incisional infections, or scarring.
  • Digestive problems: Digestive surgery can sometimes lead to digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, or difficulty absorbing nutrients.

Our experienced, board-certified gastroenterologists serve patients throughout the Greater Houston area. No matter where you live or which location you choose, you can trust that we will provide the same patient-centered standards of quality care to everyone.

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