Sign up to recieve our newsletter!


You are here

What is Gastric Bypass Surgery?

What is Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Bariatric gastric bypass surgery is one of the most common types of bariatric surgery. Most surgeons prefer gastric bypass procedures because there are typically fewer complications than with other weight loss surgery options. Gastric bypass surgery helps you lose weight by making the stomach smaller and causing food to bypass part of the small intestine. This will make you feel full more quickly and reduce the amount of food you can eat in one sitting. Bypassing part of the small intestine also helps with weight loss, by reducing how much food and nutrients are absorbed.

In gastric bypass surgery, the stomach is divided into two sections. One of the two sections is a new, smaller pouch that will act as the new stomach. The new stomach has a capacity of roughly two ounces, as opposed to its former size of about two quarts. Next, this pouch is connected directly to the small intestine. Because of this, food will travel directly from the pouch into the small intestine and the body will absorb fewer calories. Gastric bypass surgery can be done in one of two ways: open or laparoscopic. With open surgery, a large incision is made across the abdomen, giving the surgeon direct access to the stomach and small intestine. With laparoscopic bariatric surgery, four to six small incisions are made and a small camera, called a laparoscope, is placed inside, allowing the surgeon to operate through the small incisions, with thin instruments. This method is preferable because it affords patients a quicker recovery, less pain, and smaller scars, as well as a lower risk for complications.

Am I Eligible for Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is typically performed only if you cannot lose a large amount of weight and keep it off by dieting, changing behavior, and exercising regularly. Gastric bypass surgery is usually performed if your body mass index (BMI) is 40 or above or if your BMI is between 35 and 40 and you have underlying conditions affected by your weight. In some cases, you may be eligible for certain types of bariatric surgery if your BMI is between 30 and 35 and you have severe weight-related health problems. You may also need to meet other medical guidelines and have an extensive screening process to see if you qualify for bariatric gastric bypass surgery. It is important to remember that this surgery is a tool to help you lose weight; it is not an immediate solution. You must be willing to make permanent changes, including a healthy diet, regular exercise, and, sometimes, long-term monitoring of your medical conditions. This will help you reach your desired weight and remain there.

If you qualify for surgery, you will be given specific guidelines to follow before the gastric bypass procedure. You may need various medicals tests and exams before being scheduled for your weight loss surgery. You will also receive specific instructions for diet and nutrition, as well as a pre-surgery exercise program. You may also want to prepare your home for your recovery after surgery. You should check your health insurance plan or regional Medicare or Medicaid office to find out if your policy covers gastric bypass surgery.

What Should I Expect from Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery is performed under general anesthesia, so you are unconscious and pain-free during the operation. Surgery usually takes between two and four hours. After surgery, you will awaken in a recovery room and the medical staff will monitor you for any possible complications. The typical hospital stay is between three and five days.

After surgery, you won’t be allowed to eat for one or two days, so your stomach can heal. Your doctor will give you specific instructions about what you should eat after the gastric bypass procedure. For the first month, your stomach can only handle small amounts of soft foods and liquids. In the following months, you will slowly be able to add solid foods back into your diet. In a gastric bypass, the part of the small intestine where vitamins and minerals are absorbed most easily is bypassed. This may cause you to have an iron, magnesium, calcium, or vitamin deficiency. To avoid vitamin and mineral deficiencies, you will need to work with your doctor or dietitian to plan meals or take vitamin and mineral supplements.

Most patients lose approximately 10 to 20 pounds a month for the first year after surgery. This loss will decrease over time but, by sticking to your diet and exercise program, it is possible to lose half or more of the excess weight in the first two years. In addition to weight loss, gastric bypass surgery may improve or resolve underlying conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and asthma. Weighing less can also improve quality of life by making daily activities easier.