Gastric Bypass Surgery

When conventional dieting doesn't produce the desired results to improve overall health as well as for cosmetic reasons, gastric bypass can be an option for some people. The procedure involves making the stomach smaller and bypassing some of the small intestine. This causes the patient to consume less food because he or she feels full faster. Because the small intestine is partially bypassed, the patient's body has less of a chance to absorb calories and that also aids in losing weight.

Who is a Candidate for Gastric Bypass?

A typical gastric bypass candidate is someone who hasn't been able to lose weight by dieting, has a medical problem that would improve with weight loss or who has been overweight for

five years or more. Also, having a body mass index of 35 to 40 could make you a potential candidate.

Some factors that could exclude you from gastric bypass surgery are having a serious health condition or having a drug or alcohol problem. Being younger than 18 or over 65 could also be a factor that would make this procedure unavailable to you. Your doctor can advise you as to whether or not you might be a good candidate for this weight loss procedure.

The Procedure

Types Of Gastric Bypass

In a typical gastric bypass procedure, an incision will be made in the patient's abdomen for either an open gastric bypass or a laproscopic procedure. With an open gastric bypass, the incision will be larger. A laproscopic procedure allows the surgeon to make a smaller cut and then use a camera and smaller surgical tools to perform the bypass.

The stomach will then be partitioned off using staples or a band, leaving only a small portion of the stomach available. The smaller stomach will then be attached at about the middle of the small intestine.

Length Of Surgery Time And Hospital Stay

The entire procedure will take about two to three hours and will be performed in a hospital under general anesthesia. A laproscopic bypass will take the least amount of surgery time as well as require the shortest hospital stay. You can expect to be in the hospital from one to three days, depending on whether you just have a band or if you have an open procedure.


Recovery Time

After you're sent home from your gastric bypass you'll be able to walk later the same day of the surgery or at least by the next day. You will be able to drive again in one to two weeks and return to work and all regular activities within three to five weeks. Driving may depend more on how long you need to take prescription pain relief medication after your surgery.

Diet Changes

The biggest post-operative changes you will have to make after having a gastric bypass involve what and how much you eat. Because your stomach will be so much smaller you will only be able to eat small amounts of food at a time. Don't eat quickly or swallow food without chewing thoroughly because large pieces of food may not be able to pass though the new opening of your stomach into your small intestine.

Foods To Avoid

It is also advised that you avoid red meat, at least for the first few weeks, don't drink carbonated liquids, don't drink liquids for a half hour before you eat, while you are eating or for a half hour after you eat. There simply won't be enough room in your stomach for liquids and food at the same time.

After having a gastric bypass you should also avoid eating foods with a lot of sugar content. Foods high in sugars will often pass through your digestive system too fast and cause symptoms similar to insulin shock. You could become dizzy, perspire, shake, have heart palpations and diarrhea. These symptoms will normally go away on their own after about an hour.

Weight Loss Benefits

According to the Department of Health, having a gastric bypass can help patients lose around 33% of their excess weight during the first year after having the procedure. That weight loss can continue if you keep eating healthy and exercise.

Possible Side Effects

There are some serious possible side effects of having a gastric bypass. Patients can develop an infection at the incision site, an infection in the stomach or intestines, form a blood clot in a lung, develop gallstones or an ulcer and even end up with a vitamin or mineral deficiency that could contribute to osteoporosis. There is a strong possibility that you will have to take supplemental iron, calcium and B12.

A careful evaluation of the risks and benefits of having a gastric bypass will have to be made by you and your doctor before any decision is made. If you are a good candidate and could benefit from this procedure, it can be a successful weight loss tool when combined with the right changes in eating habits and exercise.