How It Works
The Gastric Bypass procedure has been employed for several decades and enables weight loss through a combination of restriction and malabsorption. As a result of the exceptional weight loss and obesity-related disease improvement potential, it remains a popular option for those considering weight loss by surgical means.
Today, the gastric bypass is generally performed in a minimally invasive (laparoscopic) manner. This means that specially-made surgical tools, including a high definition camera, are passed through tiny incisions in the abdomen versus the large, single incisions of old.
During surgery, your surgeon creates a small gastric pouch by dividing the stomach. This new pouch limits food intake (portion control). The surgeon then attaches a section of the small intestine (jejunum) directly to the new pouch. This allows food to bypass a portion of the small intestine (duodenum), which normally absorbs calories and nutrients. Having the smaller stomach pouch causes patients to feel full sooner and ultimately eat less food; bypassing a portion of the small intestine means the patient’s body absorbs fewer calories.
Unlike the gastric sleeve, the larger portion of the stomach is not removed from the abdomen. Rather, it remains, without accepting food, but continuing to produce digestive enzymes that are delivered to the intestine.
As you eat less food and absorb fewer calories, your body will stop storing excess calories and start using its fat supply for energy.
Results of the Gastric Bypass
The gastric bypass is a very effective weight loss tool with potential excess body weight loss of upwards of 80%. The bypass is also effective in eliminating or improving many of the diseases associated with morbid obesity. The gastric bypass is particularly effective for those suffering from type-2 diabetes, which in many cases, will go into remission within days or weeks of surgery. The mechanism by which the gastric bypass improved diabetes so quickly, even without appreciable weight loss, was largely unknown. However, researchers now believe that the modifications to the small intestine may rebalance the patient’s gut bacteria.
Patients with severe and uncontrolled acid reflux may benefit as well.
Benefits of the Gastric Bypass:
- Procedure has a long history, most commonly performed procedure in the US.
- Patients report an early sense of fullness and satisfaction that reduces the desire to eat.
- Patients generally lose more weight sooner than patients who undergo purely a restrictive procedure.
- Excess weight loss results are exceptional.
- Obesity related disease resolution rates are excellent.
- It can be performed laparoscopically, which means less pain, less blood loss, and shorter hospital stay.
- Built in negative feedback reinforcement with Dumping Syndrome, which produces rapid movement of food through the small intestine leaving the patient uncomfortable. This provides warnings signs that too much sugar and fat is being consumed, thus reinforcing healthy food choices.
Considerations and Risks of the Gastric Bypass:
- The Gastric Bypass is still a major surgery and comes with a degree of surgical risk which may be exacerbated by a patient’s poor health due to obesity.
- If any staple line begins to leak, the results could be bleeding or infection in the abdomen, which requires emergency care and surgery.
- The Gastric Bypass is treated as a permanent approach and is not adjustable. However, the procedure can be revised if it does not produce the desired results.
- There will be a hospital stay with this procedure.
- There are potential risks of anastomotic leaks; fistulas; intestinal irritation and ulcers; Dumping Syndrome; vitamin and mineral deficiencies such as iron, chronic anemia, vitamin B12 and calcium. This will require lifelong vitamin supplementation. It may also present lifelong difficulty in visualizing the lower stomach and segments of the small intestine when using endoscopy.
After Gastric Bypass Surgery
The typical hospital recovery time after a gastric bypass requires one to two days. Once home, patients will practice appropriate wound care and limit strenuous activities according to their postoperative guidelines. Most patients return to work within 2 weeks and normal activities can be resumed within 6 weeks, with surgeon approval.
Like other bariatric surgeries, gastric bypass patients will take a multi-vitamin supplement for the rest of their lives. Patients will likely take additional supplements because of the limited absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. These may include Vitamin D, Calcium, Vitamin B12, Iron and more. Periodic blood tests will ensure that any nutritional deficiencies are found and addressed appropriately. As with any bariatric post-op program, patients will follow a diet and exercise program that combines moderation and nutritional balance.
Our program’s approach to food budgeting, exercise, vitamins, portion control, speed at which one eats, and behavior modification such as refraining from drinking while eating is exactly the same regardless which procedure is chosen.
The gastric bypass has a proven record of weight loss results over the course of the past several decades. Consequently, it has been consistently popular over the course of time. While the gastric sleeve has overtaken the bypass in popularity, many patients continue to take advantage of the unique benefits of this procedure.
Learn more about the gastric bypass procedure by scheduling a consultation with our office. The more you know about this procedure, the greater the likelihood of your success over the long-term. We strive to offer the information and support that you need to make informed decisions and we look forward to helping you in your journey to a new life with the gastric bypass.