Gastric Bypass Surgery
Gastric bypass surgery is a weight loss procedure that reduces stomach size and reroutes the small intestine. It results in your food intake being reduced, and also causes the food you ingest to be rerouted through the digestive system, reducing food and nutrient absorption.
Because of the potential risks involved, gastric bypass surgery is typically only considered when natural means of weight loss and exercise have failed, and when the excess weight you are carrying has become a life threatening issue. Many people are able to lose weight through natural means by making changes to their diet and lifestyle. Those who choose gastric bypass surgery will still be required to make lifestyle changes in order to maintain the results of surgery and to have a good quality of life.
Candidates for bariatric surgery include individuals with the following characteristics:
- Body mass index (BMI) over 40
- Men approximately 100 pounds overweight
- Women approximately 80 pounds overweight
- BMI over 35 that have two associated co-morbidities (like heart disease and diabetes)
- Have tried other means of weight loss and have failed
Gastric Bypass Surgery Procedure
Before receiving gastric bypass surgery, you will undergo a detailed screening process to determine if you are a qualified candidate for surgery. Your healthcare provider will then discuss your weight loss surgical options. The most common gastric bypass procedure in the United States is the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RGB).
The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass usually takes 60-90 minutes and is completed under general anesthesia. The procedure consists of reducing your stomach size to restrict food consumption by creating a new, small stomach pouch, and bypassing the rest of the stomach to directly attach this pouch to the small intestine (jejunum) further down the digestive tract.
When food is eaten after RGB surgery, it bypasses several steps in the digestive processes, which results in a reduction of calorie absorption, vitamins and nutrients. People who undergo this procedure typically lose about 60 percent of their body weight.
Gastric Bypass Surgery Recovery
After your gastric bypass surgery, your healthcare provider will require you to stay in the hospital for two or three days. Your length of stay will depend on the size of your incisions; an open procedure with large incisions may require a longer stay.
You will likely feel pain at the incision site following your surgery. This pain will be managed with medication. On the same day as your surgery, your surgeon will ask you to stand and to walk around the hospital several times a day to promote circulation and prevent blood clots. Nurses will assist you in completing exercises in bed involving leg movement.
Your diet will begin with liquids only and progressively move from soft foods to regular foods. There may be more restrictions placed on your diet that will be discussed with your healthcare provider.
It will be two or three weeks before you can go back to many of your usual activities. You should avoid lifting heavy objects and strenuous activity. There are also specific follow-up treatment instructions which will include dietary and physical activity requirements. You will also need to take an increased amount of vitamin supplementation in order to replace what is being lost from bypassing parts of the digestive process.
Long-term care will include nutritional monitoring, as well as monitoring lifestyle, behavior and medical conditions.
Gastric Bypass Surgery Risks
As with all serious surgical procedures, there are risks involved. These risks will thoroughly be discussed with your healthcare provider prior to surgery. It is important to closely follow the instructions of your surgeon prior to surgery and, as you recover, to minimize associated risks. Some of the issues that you can face in the future is your stomach stretching out or returning to its original size over time, as well as other more serious risks.
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