A type of Bariatric Surgery used to treat morbid obesity by aiding dramatic weight loss. It is also known to help lessen the problems associated with asthma, high blood pressure (hypertension), type 2 diabetes and general heart problems.
With a gastric bypass, the stomach is divided into two parts using a stapling device; a small upper pouch and a large lower ‘remnant’ pouch. The small intestine is rearranged accordingly, bypassing the large pouch and thus significantly reducing the volume of the stomach. Altering the anatomy like this gives the sensation of feeling ‘full’ when eating, far quicker, due to the tiny capacity of this new stomach, therefore leading to rapid weight loss.
Also referred to as obesity surgery, metabolic surgery or weight loss surgery, Bariatric procedures are designed to restrict the amount of food the body can absorb.
General anesthesia is administered before the surgery begins – either open surgery or laparoscopic. In open surgery, an incision is made on the abdomen. The upper portion of your stomach is cut and sealed to separate it from the rest of the stomach and it is as tiny as a walnut. After this, the small intestine is cut and connected with this portion of your stomach through stitches. The abdominal incision is stitched and a bandage is applied over it. In the laparoscopic procedure, no large incision is made as 6 to 7 small cuts are made and a laparoscope along with tiny surgical instruments is inserted through it. The rest of the procedure is the same as open surgery and the incisions are stitched and bandaged.
Length of Stay in Destination
It takes 2 to 4 hours in the operation theatre to perform this surgery and the duration differs for both methods. After the surgery, you will have to stay in the hospital for 3 to 5 days depending upon your health condition. After you have been discharged, you will have to stay in the area for at least 14 days. During this period, you will attend follow up check-ups and your health, recovery and success rate are continuously monitored. Stitches are removed after 7 to 10 days. If there are no issues, you are allowed to go home.
Both methods of stomach bypass surgery have different recovery times. The Laparoscopic method requires much less time to recover and in total, 4 to 6 weeks are required for the complete recovery. Pain killers are given to deal with moderate to severe pain during the recovery process. There is swelling and bruising around your wounds which subsides after some time. Do not drive for at least 4 weeks after the surgery.
The following points should be followed by the patient after being discharged from the hospital:
- Do not intake any solid food and start with taking liquids then move on to pureed food. Follow a diet plan made by an expert. Ensure your diet is rich in vitamin B-12, iron, calcium, and other minerals. Avoid sweet or fatty food items.
- Visit your doctor regularly for several months after the surgery.
- Wear special stockings on your legs to prevent blood clot formation and hence embolism.
- Take pain killers prescribed by your physician to help with the pain.
- Do not bend or walk upstairs or attempt to lift children or any other heavy object as it can put stress on your abdomen causing your stitches to open up.
- Do not take a bath when the bandages are still intact as a wet bandage can cause infection, change your bandage regularly.
- Avoid strenuous activities such as the gym, swimming, running, etc. for some time after the surgery.
The success rate for gastric bypass surgery has increased in recent years and gastric bypass surgery is considered successful when you lose 50% of your excess weight. It means you should lose 50 pounds if you are 100 pounds overweight. A decrease in the incidence of the following diseases has also been found. 80% Success rate was found for diabetes and 90% success rate for sleep apnea after gastric bypass surgery.
Alternatives to Gastric Bypass
Surgery should never be considered as the first option. Do consider other available options before going for the surgery. Minimally invasive options are also available. The following are some alternatives to gastric bypass surgery:
- Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty: with this method, an endoscope is inserted with a camera and small surgical tools to clench the stomach. It reduces the size of your stomach, making it look like a sleeve and this is helpful in losing weight and requires less recovery time as it is a minimally invasive procedure.
- Pharmacotherapy: with this method, weight-loss medicines are given to the patient. 5% to 10% decrease in weight is reported in one year after using these medicines. However, rapid weight gain can occur after you stop using them.
- Intragastric Balloon Therapy: with this method, fluid or gas-filled balloons are introduced into your stomach. An endoscope is inserted through your mouth and once the balloon reaches your stomach, it is filled with saline solution.
Before and After Gastric Bypass
Before the surgery, you are under the risk of several morbid diseases. You are obese and may be hypertensive. Obesity limits your activity and opens doors for many other disorders. After going through this surgery and seeing the weight naturally drop off you, the risks for other diseases will decrease, you will look slimmer and your ability to partake in physical activity will vastly improve.
Alternative Bariatric Procedures:
1. Gastric Band – An inflatable silicone device is fitted around the top portion of the stomach to create a smaller stomach pouch, intended to decrease the amount of food consumed in one go.
2. Gastric Sleeve – The stomach is reduced to about 15% of its original capacity by surgically removing a large portion it, resulting in a sleeve or tube-like structure. This process is irreversible.
3. Gastric Balloon – An inflatable device is temporarily inserted into the stomach via endoscopic placement. The balloon obstructs a sizable area of the stomach, thus reducing the amount of food it can contain at any one time.
For an in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of a Gastric Bypass Procedure, watch this short video.
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