Struggling With Obesity? Know About A Weight Loss Surgery: Gastric Bypass

Gastric bypass or roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery is a surgery that helps you to lose weight or counter obesity by altering how your stomach and small intestines handle the food you eat. After the surgery, your stomach will become smaller in size, with fewer calories, you’ll feel fuller. 

What Happens When You Have A Gastric Bypass?

Gastric bypass comes under a weight loss surgery, in which general anesthesia is used before this procedure. In this procedure, surgical steps are required in order to create a small pouch at the top of the stomach, keeping the rest of the stomach unused (bypassed).

Another end of the pouch is connected to the small intestine, bypassing the stomach’s rest. This decreases the food containing capacity of the stomach. A small stomach will make you feel full quickly, even with fewer calories, relieving exhaustion and pain.

In this procedure, the stomach’s size is decreased by splitting the stomach into smaller and larger sections with the help of staplers. The upper part of the stomach is made little where the food will go. It is made the size of a walnut equivalent to one ounce (oz) or 28g.

As the stomach is stapled in two sections, the doctor needs to make another passage to the small intestine. Here comes the second stage of the surgery. In the second stage of the gastric bypass, a small portion of your small intestine (the jejunum) is attached to a small hole in your pouch by your surgeon. 

The food you consume will now pass through the new opening from the pocket(upper section of the stomach) and into your small intestine. As a result, the body can consume fewer calories.

Such a surgical procedure can be performed in two ways, such as open surgery and laparoscopy. In case of open surgery, the surgeon makes a large operative cut to open your abdomen. The bypass includes operating on the liver, small intestine, and other organs.

In laparoscopy, another way of performing the surgery in which a small camera is used is placed through the butt, and the surgeon performs the surgery accordingly by looking through the camera.

What Are The Benefits Of Gastric Bypass Surgery?

The gastric bypass that comes under weight loss surgery has traditionally been the most prevalent way to cure obesity through surgeries. Since 2011, gastric sleeve surgery has grown in popularity gradually. It has now become the most common choice among bariatric surgery(weight loss surgery) in 2015. However, this doesn’t take away the advantages of gastric bypass surgery.

Gastric bypass is not mandatory for everyone, and neither should obese people go for such weight loss surgery. But here are some benefits of gastric bypass:- 

  • Gastric bypass provides long-term weight loss. On average, in the first 18 months after surgery, you will lose 70% of the excess body weight. 
  • Long-term relief from type 2 diabetes, says the Cleveland Clinic Study. Additionally, this study suggests gastric bypass is highly effective for obese patients with type 2 diabetes.
  • Such weight loss surgery helps improve cardiovascular health, reducing the person’s risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral heart diseases. It will make your blood pressure and cholesterol level normal, eliminating the medications for hypertension and high cholesterol.  
  • Gastric bypass surgery helps you get relief from depression. People for whom weight loss surgery is the only option usually have depression symptoms due to their poor body image and social stigma. 
  • Obsess people who are thinking of gastric bypass surgery usually have obstructive sleep apnea and require a CPAP machine at bedtime. Gastric bypass surgery helps these people get relief from the CPAP machine; they can go to bed without using the device.
  • Obese people always have joint pain complaints. The significant weight loss after gastric bypass makes them feel relief from joint pain and allows them to stop taking pain killer medications.
  • Gastric bypass can also help in improving fertility during the childbearing years.
  • Gastric bypass surgery improves other medical conditions, such as metabolic syndrome, pregnancy complications, gallbladder disease, and more. 

Anecdotally, after gastric bypass surgery, you’ll have more time, more confidence, and feel better. Such benefits are difficult to quantify, but this study shows that 95%of patients registered an improved quality of life 1 year after surgery.

Who Is The Typical Patient For Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgery may usually be a choice for you if: 

  • In case your body mass index (BMI) is 40, or higher, which indicates an extreme level of obesity. 
  • Your body mass index (BMI) is 35 to 39.9 (obesity), and you have significant health complications linked to weight, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or extreme sleep apnea. 
  • For some instances, if your BMI is 30 to 34, and you have severe weight-related health issues, you can opt for some form of weight-loss surgery. 

But gastric bypass or roux-en-y surgery is not for anyone who has severe excess weight. You’ll likely have an extensive screening process to see if you’re eligible. For being eligible for any weight-loss surgery, you may need to meet the certain medical team that includes:-

  • Primary healthcare specialist
  • Surgeon
  • Dietitian
  • Anesthesiologist
  • Psychologist or psychiatrist
  • A nurse specializing in weight management
  • Other specialists depending on your medical conditions

Be ready to make permanent changes to lead a healthier lifestyle. You may need to participate in long-term follow-up plans, including monitoring your nutrition, lifestyle and behavior, and medical conditions. 

Check with the health insurance provider or the Medicare or Medicaid area office to see if the coverage includes weight-loss surgery.

Why Would Someone Need A Gastric Bypass?

Gastric Bypass Surgery or roux-en-y surgery is done to minimize the likelihood of the following health conditions that can go worse if not treated:-

What Are Some Complications Of Gastric Bypass Surgery?

The list of gastric bypass risks and side effect related to the surgery is similar to any abdominal surgery, such as:-

  • Stretching the pouch (stomach becomes more extensive over time, stretching back to its original size). 
  • Band erosion (it disintegrates the band cutting off part of the stomach). 
  • Staple lines breakdown (band and staples fall apart, the procedure reversed). 
  • Leakage of stomach contents into the abdomen (this is dangerous since other organs can be eaten away by the acid). 
  • Deficiencies in nutrition cause health problems. 
  • Gastric bypass surgery also induces “dumping syndrome,” through which the stomach’s contents travel into the small intestine too quickly.

Symptoms include nausea, weakness, sweating, faintness, occasionally after-eating diarrhea, and the inability to eat sweets without becoming extremely weak. In response to rapid weight loss, gallstones may occur, easily removed after surgery through medication. 

Due to less food intake, a limited amount of vitamin B-12 and iron absorption can be absorbed that can result in anemia. Similarly, the lack of absorption of calcium may also cause osteoporosis and bone metabolic disease. Individuals who undergo this procedure need to take nutritional supplements that usually prevent these deficiencies. 

The more comprehensive the gastric bypass operation, the greater the risk of complications and nutritional deficiencies. You may experience changes due to the rapid weight loss, especially in the first 3-6 months after gastric bypasses, such as:-

  • Body aches
  • Feeling cold
  • Mood changes
  • Dry skin
  • Hair thinning and hair loss
  • Tired feeling (if you have the flu)

Know These Things If Your Preparing For Gastric Bypass Surgery

  • Consult with your healthcare specialist about how to plan for surgery if you qualify for a gastric bypass. But before that, you need to have different laboratory tests and examinations. 
  • Give your doctor and every other health care professional a list of all medications, vitamins, minerals, and herbal or nutritional supplements you are taking before your surgery. You may have eating and drinking limits and what medications you can take. 
  • Consult with the doctor before surgery if you are taking blood-thinning medications. Since these drugs affect clotting and bleeding, you may need to change the regimen of blood-thinning medications.
  • You will have to initiate a physical activity program strictly restricting the use of tobacco. 
  • You may also need to prepare for recovery after surgery by planning. Arrange help at home before the surgery. 
  • A gastric bypass operation is conducted at the hospital. Your hospital stay will last from 3-5 days, depending on your recovery. After that, make some arrangements to go home before the surgery. 

Also Read: All You Need To Know About Gastric Cancer

During The Gastric Bypass Surgery

The details of your gastric bypass depend on your severity and the procedures of your doctor. Initially, you will be given anesthesia before the surgery in order to keep you asleep and comfortable during surgery.

Some surgeries are performed in your abdomen using traditional large (open) incisions. Most are laparoscopically done. However, this includes inserting instruments through several small incisions into the stomach. 

After using the open or laparoscopic procedure to make the incisions, the surgeon slices through the top of your stomach. It is cut off from the rest of your abdomen.

The resulting pouch is about a walnut’s size and can hold just about an ounce of food. Your stomach will usually carry about 3 pints of food.

Then, the surgeon removes the small intestine and directly sews part of it onto the pouch. Nutrition then goes into this small pocket of the stomach and then into the small intestine immediately sewn to it. It then reaches the middle part of your small intestine directly instead. 

Such gastric bypass surgery usually takes a few hours to complete. After the surgery, you will be shifted to a recuperation room, where medical staff monitors you for any complications.

After The Surgery

Just after the surgery, you will have to survive on a liquid diet. You have to avoid solid food items intake as your stomach and intestines begin to heal. 

However, it would be best if you then had to adopt a particular diet schedule, which gradually switches from liquids to pureed foods. 

You should consume soft foods after that and move on to more firm foods slowly and steadily because your stomach would not handle solid foods just after the surgery. 

You may have certain limits or constraints on how much and what you can eat and drink. After surgery, the doctor will prescribe taking vitamin and mineral supplements, including iron, calcium, and vitamin B-12 multivitamin.

In the first few months after weight-loss surgery, you will also have to undergo frequent medical checkups to monitor your health. Laboratory tests, blood testing, and various tests can be required. 

You may experience changes when your body reacts to the rapid weight loss, especially during the first 3-6 months, such as body pain, fatigue, feeling of having the flu, feeling cold, dry skin, hair loss, mood swings. 

What If The Surgery Doesn’t Work?

After such weight-loss surgery, it is possible not to lose enough weight or to regain weight. When you don’t follow the prescribed lifestyle changes, you might experience weight gain. 

For example, if you frequently intake high-calorie foods, you can experience insufficient weight loss. You should make substantial positive improvements in your diet and get enough physical activity and exercise to help prevent regaining weight. 

After gastric bypass, it is essential to keep all of your scheduled follow-up appointments so that your doctor can monitor your condition. If you notice that you don’t lose weight or develop complications after surgery, see your doctor immediately.

The Bottom Line

The amount of weight you lose depends on the type of surgery you had and your lifestyle habits. Within two years, it may be possible to lose 60% or even more of your weight. 

Besides weight loss, gastric bypass may boost or overcome problems that are often associated with overweight, including:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypertension 
  • High cholesterol
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Infertility


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Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.