Gastric Bypass Surgery

Weight loss surgery has become a commonly sought after procedure by a number of individuals across the globe.

While it may appear like a simple solution to a rather difficult problem, it must be borne in mind that weight loss surgery such as gastric bypass surgery is offered to specific individuals who would benefit from the procedure rather than each and every individual who wishes to undergo it.

We shall take a look at gastric bypass surgery in a bit more detail, concentrating particularly on the indications, the procedure itself and the side-effects and complications associated with it.

What is gastric bypass surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery refers to a procedure where alterations are made in the anatomy of the stomach and the small intestine so that the food that is consumed bypasses the stomach and passes directly to the intestine. By doing so, patients are able to lose weight rather dramatically.

When is gastric bypass surgery performed?

Gastric bypass surgery is offered to patients who are morbidly obese. Morbidly obese patients refer to those who have extremely high body mass index, meaning that their weight is well out of proportion and a lot more than would be expected for their height and age.

Patients need to undergo extensive evaluation to ensure that gastric bypass surgery is safe for them and is the only option for them to lose weight. Of course, patients should attempt to lose weight through normal methods such as exercise and diet first. If this fails, and every other avenue has been looked at, then gastric bypass surgery may be offered.

It must be remembered that gastric bypass surgery is in no way a quick solution to managing obesity. You may not be offered this procedure at all, especially if the risk of the procedure outweighs the benefits.

Furthermore, the presence of underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension can all be a contraindication to performing this procedure.

How is the procedure performed?

There are two main ways through which gastric bypass surgery is performed – open surgery and laparoscopic surgery.

Open surgery (also called Roux-en-Y bypass surgery) involves placing the patient under general anesthesia to avoid any pain during the procedure. An incision is made in the abdomen and the stomach and the small intestine are exposed. A part of the stomach is stapled in order to make its size a lot smaller.

Take a look at this video that explains this procedure:

Only a small pouch that is the size of a small nut is left behind. After the stomach is stapled, a bypass is created where the small intestine is attached directly to this pouch.

This way any food that is consumed passes through the food pipe directly through the pouch into the small intestine.

This means that the food that is consumed is not broken down properly into its constituents, this reducing the amount of calories that are absorbed. A reduction in the amount of calories absorbed will result in a breakdown of the body’s fat to provide the body with energy that it requires.

Over time this results in weight loss.

Another type of gastric bypass surgery that is performed is laparoscopic surgery. This involves the making of small incisions in the abdominal wall through which cameras are inserted to visualize the structures within the abdomen.

The stapling and bypass are performed as described above using these instruments.

The laparoscopic surgery bears the advantage of less scarring, less pain and a shorter stay in hospital. Patients tend to recover a lot sooner as well. The procedure does not take as long as open gastric bypass surgery. Due to these reasons, laparoscopic bypass surgery is the procedure of choice.

This video demonstrates this clearly:

After the surgery

After the procedure is performed, the patient is observed for a period of time and is then discharged home. It is essential for patients to continue to diet and exercise after they had the procedure. They help care professional team will advise the patient as to what sort of exercise and activities they can do for the first few days to weeks following the procedure. This is to ensure that the wound on the abdomen heals sufficiently.

Patients are advised not to eat any food for the first 2 to 3 days following the procedure. Instead, they will receive intravenous fluids to keep them hydrated and nourished. There may be certain tubes (called the drains) inserted in the abdomen to prevent accumulation of fluid.

Patients will also be advised to take complete bed rest to allow for wound healing, though early mobilization by sitting out of bed and taking short walks will also be recommended under supervision. Compression stockings may be applied to the patient to prevent the formation of blood clots in the legs. In the event of any pain occurring, painkillers will be offered to the patient. Once the patient is able to consume semisolid food without vomiting, they will be discharged home.

Once the patient goes home, there will be asked to consume soft diet for a few days.

Risks and complications of the procedure

Unfortunately, gastric bypass surgery does bring with it certain risks. Patients may develop blood clots in the legs due to prolonged bed rest. Due to the underlying health problems, patients may develop heart attacks, strokes or even difficulty breathing. Patients may also lose a large amount of blood during surgery and may require a blood transfusion. Wound infection, if occurs, is treated with antibiotics.

Take a look at this video that explains this procedure:

Long-term outcome

The general outcome of patients who have undergone gastric bypass surgery when it comes to weight loss is excellent. Patients tend to lose up to 20 pounds in the first month following surgery. As time progresses, the amount of weight that is lost every month steadily declines and can be maintained at a healthy weight by observing a strict diet and exercise plan.

Gastric bypass surgery is a remarkable surgery that results in a large amount of weight loss in morbidly obese patients. It is prescribed only to particular patients who have failed to lose weight despite every effort they have made. Unfortunately the procedure is accompanied by a number of different risks and therefore choosing patients is done by experts to ensure that these are risks are minimal and the benefits are maximum.

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