Gastric Bypass

Time and again, we’ve heard that following proper diets and engaging in regular exercises is recommended for keeping in shape. But for some people, it’s easier said than done.

For people who have a slow metabolism, or who face chronic weight gain issues, diets and simple workouts may not deliver the results they seek. For them, medical procedures like gastric bypass surgeries are recommended to not just shed significant portions of weight, but also keep it off.

Gastric bypass, the most common type of weight loss surgery, is performed when excessive body weight lands someone in serious health issues. Also known as Roux-en-Y, it’s a type of bariatric surgery wherein a significant portion of the stomach is removed and only a small pouch is left.

This pouch is then connected to the intestine, and whatever food you swallow directly goes to the intestine. In this way, most of your stomach, as well as the first part of the small intestine, are bypassed.

If your doctor has recommended that you undergo gastric bypass surgery, it’s natural to feel a little skeptical. But if you learn about the procedure, its effects, and risks, taking a decision might get easier.

That’s why in this post we’ve compiled all the necessary information related to this weight loss surgery so that you have full disclosure before undergoing the knife.

Why Gastric bypass?

Excessive weight can cause several life-threatening health problems like:

  • Heart diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Gastroesophageal diseases
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Infertility
  • Stroke
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

Quite evidently, it’s important that we get rid of the excess weight from our body before it leads to a disaster. Gastric bypass surgery helps to reduce excess weight and save us from several serious health issues.

But it’s important to realize that everyone who’s overweight isn’t recommended this treatment. The surgery is mainly suggested to those who’ve tried losing weight through diet and exercise but haven’t witnessed significant results.

What is the procedure like?

Though there might be minor alterations to the below-mentioned procedure depending on the country and clinic that you’re getting it done at, generally, gastric bypass surgery involves the following steps:

Note: Before the surgery, you’ll be given a general anesthetic to keep you asleep and pain-free during the process.

  1. The first step is to reduce your stomach to the size of a walnut. For this, the surgeon will divide your stomach into a smaller upper part and a larger bottom part. The smaller top part is called a pouch which is capable of holding only an ounce or 28 grams of the food. It’s this section where the food you eat goes. Reducing the size of this portion will ensure that you eat less food.
  2. The second step is the bypass wherein the surgeon will connect a part of your small intestine to a hole in the small pouch that’s been created from your stomach. This will allow the food to travel into this new opening from the pouch. This way your body will absorb lesser calories resulting in lesser weight.

Gastric bypass may be performed in one of two ways:

Open surgery – The surgeon makes a large cut to open your belly. He/she then works on various organs including the stomach and small intestine, and then the bypass is performed.

Laparoscopy – A tiny camera is inserted inside your belly to allow the surgeon to see inside of while he/she makes a few small cuts. Through these cuts, the surgeon inserts the various instruments to perform the above-mentioned steps.

Who is Gastric Bypass suggested for?

Not every person who’s overweight can undergo gastric bypass. You need to meet certain guidelines and undergo a screening process to qualify for it. But experts say that in general, weight loss surgeries like gastric bypass are recommended if you fall under any of the following conditions:

After gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries, you must make permanent changes to your lifestyle to maintain the results.

You will have to participate in long term follow up plans wherein your nutrition, lifestyle, behavior, and medical conditions will be monitored.

How do you prepare for this surgery?

Before you undergo gastric bypass, you’ll be asked to take some tests including.

  • A complete physical exam
  • Blood tests, ultrasound of gallbladder, and other tests to confirm whether or not you’re fit for the surgery

Additionally, you’ll need to confirm from your doctor that you don’t suffer from problematic levels of other underlying medical problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart or lung issues. On top of this, if you can take classes that make you aware of the process, risks associated with it, and what you can expect after the surgery, there’s nothing like it.

A few goods to have advantages include:

  • Visiting a counselor to make sure that you’re emotionally ready for the procedure. After surgery, you’ll be recommended major lifestyle changes as well.
  • Several weeks before the surgery, you’ll be advised to quit smoking. In fact, you’ll be advised to not smoke even after the surgery. This is because smoking slows down the recovery process and increases the risk of other health issues.

Note: You also need to keep your surgeon well informed if you’re pregnant. Also, you need to tell him/her what all medications, herbs, vitamins, or supplements you’ve been taking for a while.

Lastly, here are a few important D-day preparations:

A week before the surgery, your doctor may advise you to stop taking medicines like aspirin, ibuprofen, warfarin, and others.

Such drugs make it hard for the blood to clot. You should ideally confirm which medicines you can take on the day of surgery.

On the day of surgery, you’ll be told when to stop eating and drinking. Do follow these instructions diligently as failure to do so can result in surgical complications.

What can you expect from gastric bypass?

Gastric bypass surgery is performed in hospitals, and your hospital stay will depend on the rate of your recovery. Typically it takes one or two days, but it might last longer as well.

In most cases, you can expect the following if you’re about to undergo this procedure:

  • In the hospital
    • On the day of surgery, you’ll be asked to walk a little, but mostly just sit inside the bed.
    • For 1-2 days, you might have a catheter placed inside your nose reaching your stomach. This will help drain fluids from your bowel.
    • Another tube or catheter might be placed in your bladder to help you urinate.
    • A tube might also be connected to a larger part of your stomach to drain fluids.
    • To prevent blood clots in your legs, you will be advised to wear special stockings.
    • Pain medicines will be prescribed.
  • After the surgery
    • You’ll stay at the hospital for nearly 2-3 days after the surgery is done.
    • Immediately after the procedure, you won’t be given any solid food until your stomach and intestine heal completely.
    • Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead to have food, you’ll have to follow a special diet plan which will shift from liquids to pureed foods to soft foods and then firmer foods when your body is ready to tolerate it.
    • Initially, there will be certain restrictions as to how much you can eat or drink.
    • You will be given vitamins and mineral supplements including iron, calcium, and vitamin B12.
  • You’ll be allowed to go home when
    • You can eat properly without vomiting it out.
    • You can move around without experiencing much pain.
    • You don’t require pain medication through IV.

Note: Due to a rapid decrease in weight in the first few months after gastric surgery, you may experience body ache, dry skin, mood changes, hair loss, feeling tired and cold. Make sure you follow all the given instructions and take the best care of yourself once you reach home.

Are there any risks associated with Gastric Bypass?

Being a major surgery, there are certain serious risks associated with gastric bypass. Most of these are similar to any other abdominal surgery. However, it’s still advised that you discuss them with your surgeon.

  • Risks associated with anesthesia and surgery in general include
    • Breathing problems
    • Bleeding, blood clots, infection
    • Heart problems
    • Allergic reactions to medicines
  • Risks associated with gastric bypass include
    • Gastritis, heartburn, stomach ulcers
    • Injury to stomach, intestine, or other organs during the procedure
    • Poor nutrition
    • Content may leak from the line where part of the stomach has been stapled
    • Scarring may lead to an obstruction in the bowel in future
    • If you eat more than your stomach can hold, it may lead to vomiting
    • Hernias
    • Gallstones
    • Dumping syndrome causing diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
    • Hypoglycemia
    • Stomach perforation

Even so, the complications of gastric bypass are rarely fatal.

How does weight loss happen after Gastric Bypass surgery?

Most people who’ve undergone gastric bypass lose more weight in the first year after the surgery. So much so, that you may lose nearly 70% or more weight in the initial two years, at the rate of nearly 4.5 to 9 kilograms a month.

However, with time, this rate decreases gradually. It really depends on the lifestyle changes and the type of surgery you undergo as to how much weight you’ll actually lose.

You need to exercise and maintain your diet after the surgery to lose even more weight. Your doctor will give you certain guidelines about eating habits and exercise. You need to follow these instructions to avoid any complications in the future.

Are there any chances for Gastric Bypass to not work?

In a majority of the cases, the procedure succeeds in achieving the desired results. However, in a few rare cases, a patient may not notice any weight loss after the surgery or may end up regaining the weight loss in the initial days after the procedure.

The reason for such weight gain is a failure to follow the recommended lifestyle modifications. For instance, if you continue to consume high-calorie foods even after the surgery, you may not notice any significant change in your weight.

To avoid regaining weight, you must make permanent changes to your diet and exercise regularly. Make sure to visit your doctor according to your scheduled follow up after the surgery.

In case you notice any complications after the surgery, or you feel like you’re not losing enough weight, see your doctor immediately.

Summarizing it up

Gastric bypass aims to change the way your stomach and intestine handle the food you eat. It’s a medical procedure that results in a smaller stomach which makes you feel full with less food.

Once the surgery is performed, the usual path of the food from the stomach to the intestines is altered, and as a result, your body absorbs lesser calories.

This helps in significant weight loss, especially when you exercise regularly and maintain your diet after the surgery.

About The Author:

Stacey Smith is a freelance health writer. She is passionate to write about women’s health, dental health, diabetes, endocrinology, and nutrition and provides in-depth features on the latest in health news for medical clinics and health magazines.

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