What is gastric bypass surgery? It is a type of bariatric surgery that involves closing off a large portion of the stomach, and leaving only a pouch that can hold a tablespoon or so of food. This surgery restricts the food intake, decreases caloric intake, and eventually leads to weight loss. After a gastric bypass surgery, patients feel full very quickly. They can eat small meals and do not feel hunger anymore. The greatest benefit of a gastric surgery is that it can lead to up to 70% of excess weight loss in a single year.
This bariatric procedure combines the creation of a small pouch in the stomach to limit food intake, and construction of bypasses of the duodenum as well as other segments of the small intestine to cause mal-absorption. Mal-absorption is a reduced ability to absorb nutrients from food; it is an imperfect absorption of food material by the small intestine.
There are many types of gastric bypass surgery. However, the most popular of them includes the combination of reducing the size of the stomach by stapling off its small section, and shortening the small intestine by reconnecting it to a lower point to ensure a lesser caloric intake and weight loss.
Previously, all bariatric procedures including gastric bypass surgeries involved large incisions. However, since the laparoscope was introduced, the situation has changed drastically. Now the operation may take a little longer, but the surgical cuts are so small that they facilitate a much faster recovery. Laparoscopic surgery is a procedure in which a fiber-optic instrument is inserted through the abdominal wall to view the organs in the abdomen or to permit a surgical procedure. This technique is much less invasive and less risky than traditional surgery.
There are many other benefits of laparoscopic gastric bypass surgeries such as lower risk of hernias, less significant scars, and much more. When compared to large incision gastric surgery, the laparoscopic procedure is revolutionary. However, it cannot be implemented if the patient weight is more than 500 pounds. In such a case, a short-term weight loss procedure such as mouth-wiring may be advised. When the patient reaches a weight of 400 pounds or less, a laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery can be performed.
However, people who suffer from excess weight and obesity should always keep in mind that laparoscopic weight loss surgery is not a miracle cure. It takes a great deal of time and effort. The procedure itself lasts from an hour-and-a-half to two hours; then the recovery period from one to two months, and the drastic changes to lifestyle and eating habits last forever. The hardest times are following the operation, when it feels very uncomfortable to eat anything and to start eating solid food and be able to digest proteins or complex carbohydrates.
Patients will begin losing weight immediately after a gastric bypass surgery. This process lasts for nearly two years, during which the patients often lose from 50% to 100% of their excess weight. However, that very much depends on the commitment of a person. Gastric surgery is not a long-term solution if a person does not change his or her lifestyle and eating habits, or fails to follow the guidelines of the dietary counselor. Gastric bypass surgery together with a well-balanced diet and regular exercise will ensure the best results.
All gastric bypass surgeries result in the mal-absorption and restriction of food intake. That decreases the caloric intake. Patients that undergo gastric bypass surgeries lose an estimated two-thirds of their excess weight over a period of two years.
The majority of patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery recover from it without any complications. The longest recovery time, two to four days, is required after a Roux-en-Y bypass operation. After other types of gastric bypass surgery, patients generally recover even more quickly.
However, all gastric bypass surgeries are associated with risks. The greatest risk is the pouch stretching. This involves the stomach becoming larger overtime and eventually stretching back to its normal size prior to the surgery. In addition, there is a risk of band erosion, when the band closing off part of the stomach disintegrates. Some other potential dangers include the breakdown of staple lines, when band and staples disintegrate and reverse the procedure; and leakage of stomach contents, such as acids that can eat away other organs, into the abdomen. There is also a risk of nutritional deficiencies that can cause health problems.
There is also a risk that gastric bypass surgery can cause a “dumping syndrome.” This syndrome involves the moving of the stomach contents too quickly through the small intestine, which can cause such health problems as nausea, weakness, sweating, faintness, diarrhea and inability to eat products that contain sugar without becoming extremely weak. If weight is being lost very rapidly, gallstones may also occur. However, gallstones can be dissolved with medication taken following the operation.
Patients that have undergone gastric bypass surgery should be very careful to avoid vitamin B12 and iron deficiencies that can cause anemia. The deficiency of calcium can lead to osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease. That is why it is very important and vital to take supplements to lessen the above-mentioned risks. Patients should also be aware of the fact that, the more extensive the surgery, the higher is the risk of complications and lack of nutrients. Those patients who undergo extensive gastric bypass surgeries are required to submit to constant monitoring and use of special foods and medicines.
Because of these risks and issues, many things depend on the commitment of the patient after the operation. Gastric bypass surgery is no solution if a patient does not change his or her lifestyle and eating habits. To achieve the best possible results, a person should go on a well-balanced low carb diet, cut back on calories and start eating more fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains, seafood, poultry, and other products rich in vitamins and minerals. Regular exercise is also required.