If you’ve tried unsuccessfully to lose weight through diet and exercise, and your body mass index (BMI) is 40 or above, indicating extreme obesity, gastric bypass surgery may be an answer to your weight loss needs. Likewise, if you have serious weight-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, or high blood pressure and have a BMI of 35 to 39.9, i.e. considered to be “obese”, gastric bypass procedure could be right for you. Here are the answers to the most common gastric bypass procedure questions to help you determine if gastric bypass surgery is right for you?
What is gastric bypass surgery?
The most common of all weight loss surgeries, gastric bypass surgery accounts for around 80% of all bariatric weight loss surgeries conducted in the United States. A gastric bypass procedure can be broken into two parts.
The first step in gastric bypass procedure is to divide the stomach in two parts. The surgeon staples the stomach so that the smaller part creates a pouch which can hold no more than about a cup of food. In the second stage of surgery, this pouch will be disconnected from the beginning of the small intestine and the majority of the stomach. Instead, the surgeon will connect the small pouch to a new point farther down on the small intestine.
The result of these two steps is to cause you to feel full after eating less (i.e. a cup of food), and then for the food to bypass the first part of the small intestine. By bypassing this part of the digestive tract, you’re body won’t be able to absorb as many calories from your food.
What can I expect after surgery?
If you’re considering bariatric surgery for weight loss, chances are you’re thinking about what it’ll look like from the other side. So what can you expect following your gastric bypass procedure? For one thing, you can expect to lose weight – - potentially a lot of weight. The exact amount of weight loss experienced will depend on weight before weight loss surgery and your lifestyle after surgery. That being said, following gastric bypass surgery, patients lost an average of 60% of their extra weight.
You can also expect to see an improvement in any other weight-related medical conditions. Bariatric surgery such as a gastric bypass procedure, has been shown to help resolve: asthma in 82% of patients, obstructive sleep apnea in 74% to 98% of patients, hypertension in 52% to 92% of patients, GERD in 72% to 98% of patients, and depression in 55% of patients. In addition, 82% of patients saw a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease following weight loss surgery.
What is recovery after gastric bypass surgery like?
Most bariatric surgeons perform what is called a laparoscopic gastric bypass procedure. This means the surgeon will only make very small cuts during the procedure, allowing for a shorter recovery time. In general, you can expect a hospital stay of two to three days. After three to five weeks, you should be back to your normal activities.
Will I regain the weight?
It wouldn’t be fair to discuss a gastric bypass procedure without touching on the chance of regaining some weight. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery found that for around half of bariatric surgery patients, there is the potential of regaining some weight. That amount is small, however – - about 5% – - and usually occurs two years following surgery. Studies which followed the same patients over a long period of time found that most patients are able to maintain successful long-term weight loss following surgery.
Are there side effects?
For most patients, the answer is no – - other than the beneficial side-effects of seeing their weight-related medical conditions resolved, that is. For 10% of patients, however, there may be minor complications following weight loss surgery. Fewer than 5% of patients will experience serious complications.
The more common side effects of gastric bypass procedure and other bariatric procedures include: constipation, gallstones, dumping syndrome (which occurs when sugary food rushes through the stomach, inducing nausea, vomiting, and weakness), and wound infections. If any of these side effects occur following your gastric bypass procedure, contact your doctor for how to handle them.
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