Medical Guide: Gastric Bypass Surgery
In the United States, obesity is steadily becoming a national health concern. Nearly 34 percent of adults in the country, according to the Center for Disease Control, are overweight. While diet and exercise are recommended methods of losing excess body weight, it is often difficult and achieving the desired results can take years to accomplish. For some people bariatric surgery, or weight loss surgery, is an option that can help them come down to a healthy weight. Gastric bypass surgery is one of the most commonly performed types of bariatric surgery today. Because it is an invasive surgical procedure, it is important that anyone considering it thoroughly understands all of what is involved.
What it is
Gastric bypass is a common surgical procedure that is performed to assist people who are obese in losing weight. It involves creating a small pouch from the existing stomach. As a result, people who have undergone the surgery are only able to consume small amounts of food without feeling overly full. In order to be eligible for the procedure, a person’s body mass index (BMI) must be over 40. People who are overweight and suffering from health conditions, such as type II diabetes or sleep apnea, are also potential candidates, even with a lower BMI of 35.
- WebMD: What Is Gastric Bypass Surgery?
- Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass
- Medicinenet: Introduction to Gastric Bypass
- UCSF Medical Center: Treating Obesity With Surgery
- University of Washington Medical Center: Are You a Good Candidate?
There are numerous benefits associated with successful gastric bypass. The most obvious being the loss of excess weight, with most people losing more than half within the first year. Accompanying this weight loss people will benefit in terms of health. These results are often greater than the results of other bariatric surgeries. There may be an improvement in conditions such as joint pain and blood pressure. Lower body weight also reduces the risk of getting certain diseases, like cancer and diabetes related kidney disease. A person will also experience an increase in energy as a result of losing weight.
- Healthfinder: Weight-Loss Surgery May Improve Diabetes-Related Kidney Damage
- AHRQ: Bariatric Surgery Before Pregnancy Reduces The Risk Of Gestational Diabetes In Obese Women
- Getting the Most From Gastric Bypass
- Gastric Bypass Surgery – The Benefits
- Gastric Bypass – Reasons for the Procedure
The Surgery Process
The gastric bypass procedure is done in a hospital under general anesthesia. As a result, the person having the surgery will be asleep throughout the process. The surgery can be performed using a large incision to gain access to the stomach and intestine or, using a small incision, a laparoscope, and thin instruments. A laparoscope is a very small camera that is entered into the body through the small incision. For either procedure, the surgeon will divide the stomach into two parts that will create a small pouch by stapling off a portion of the stomach. This newly created pouch is roughly walnut size. The surgeon then connects the pouch to the middle part of the small intestine, called the jejunum. This section of the small intestine will absorb fewer nutrients and calories than the first half of the intestine.
- Wexner Medical Center: Bariatric Surgical Procedures – Gastric Bypass
- Gastric Bypass – During the Procedure
- The New Wishard – Gastric Bypass Surgery – During the Procedure
- Gastric Bypass Surgical Procedure
- Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass – How it Works
The Recovery Process
Following the surgery a person will need to spend up to five days in the hospital. This may be less depending on how the patient is progressing and the particular surgeon. While in the hospital the patient will need to walk, starting the day of the surgery. A catheter may be required to drain fluid from the stomach and measures will be taken to prevent blood clots from forming. After the first several days where eating is not allowed, the patient is gradually reintroduced to liquids. Once he or she is able to consume food that has been pureed without throwing it up and can move with minimal pain, the patient is then able to go home. Once at home, following the doctor’s instructions faithfully is a crucial part of the recovery process. This means keeping follow-up appointments, keeping the surgical site clean and dry, following food restrictions, and avoiding strenuous work. It is also important that the doctor is notified if there is swelling, bleeding, elevated pain or fever.
- Gastric Bypass Surgery – After the Procedure
- Upstate Medical University – Recovery Phase FAQ
- Gastric Bypass Surgery – What is Gastric Bypass
- Rochester University – Right After (Recovery)
- Recuperation and Follow-Up
Risks and Complications
Numerous risks are associated with the procedure, some of which are common risks for any type of surgical procedure. Infection, blood clots, and pneumonia are a few of the surgical risks that are not specific to the procedure itself. Other risks that are a result of having the procedure include anemia, osteoporosis or metabolic disease. These problems typically occur because the body is unable to absorb as many nutrients as it did prior to surgery. People may develop gallstones or, if food passes too quickly into the intestines or if too much fatty or sugary food is eaten, they may experience symptoms such as excess sweating, nausea, diarrhea, and fainting. This is known as “dumping” syndrome. Other problems include constipation, stomach ulcers, or bowel obstruction.
- Mayo Clinic: Gastric Bypass Surgery – Risks
- The New York Times Health Guide – Gastric Bypass Risks
- Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass – Surgical Risks and Complications
- What Complications Can Occur After Surgery?
- Surgical Risks of Gastric Bypass
The Prognosis – Life After Surgery
The outlook for people who’ve had gastric bypass is generally a favorable one. They can expect to lose weight quickly in the first year, but must eat the proper foods and commit to regular exercise for maximum results. If a person fails to change his or her lifestyle when it comes to eating and exercise, it is possible to stretch the pouch and regain weight. In addition to food, it is also important that a multivitamin is taken to prevent any vitamin deficiency. Some people find that participating in support groups can help them maintain their weight loss. With positive results, a person can also expect to live a healthier and more active lifestyle.