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Obesity and its associated medical conditions continue to increase and add significant burden to patients, as well as health-care systems, worldwide. Bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for severe obesity and its comorbidities, and resolution of diabetes is weight loss-independent in the case of some operations. Although these weight-independent effects are frequently described clinically, the mechanisms behind them are not well understood and remain an intense area of focus in the growing field of metabolic and bariatric surgery. Perceptions of the mechanisms responsible for the beneficial metabolic effects of metabolic/bariatric operations have shifted from being mostly restrictive and malabsorption over the last 10 to 15 years to being more neuro-hormonal in origin. In this review, we describe recent basic and clinical findings of the major clinical procedures (adjustable gastric banding, vertical sleeve gastrectomy, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, and biliopancreatic diversion) as well as other experimental procedures (ileal interposition and bile diversion) that recapitulate many of the metabolic effects of these complex operations in a simpler fashion. As the role of bile acids and the gut microbiome on metabolism is becoming increasingly well described, their potential roles in these improvements following metabolic surgery are becoming better appreciated. Bile acid and gut microbiome changes, in light of recent developments, are discussed in the context of these surgical procedures, as well as their implications for future study.