What is Gastric Bypass Surgery?
Gastric bypass, also called Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, is a type of weight-loss surgery that involves creating a small pouch from the stomach and connecting the newly created pouch directly to the small intestine. After gastric bypass, swallowed food will go into this small pouch of stomach and then directly into the small intestine, thereby bypassing most of your stomach and the first section of your small intestine.
The purpose of gastric bypass surgery is to help you lose excess weight and reduce your risk of potentially life-threatening weight-related health problems, including:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
When is Gastric Bypass Surgery needed?
Gastric bypass is done when diet and exercise haven’t worked or when you have serious health problems because of your weight.
What should you know before undergoing Gastric Bypass Surgery?
Not everyone can safely undergo this procedure. Gastric bypass surgery is not for everyone. This procedure may be contraindicated in cases of:
- History of substance abuse
- History of major psychiatric disorder
- End-stage organ disease (eg, hepatic, cardiac, pulmonary)
Patients who are not committed to making long-term lifestyle changes are not ideal candidates for this procedure.
What are the complications and side effects?
Risks associated with the surgical procedure are similar to any abdominal surgery and can include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia
- Blood clots
- Lung or breathing problems
- Leaks in your gastrointestinal system
Longer term risks and complications of gastric bypass can include:
- Bowel obstruction
- Dumping syndrome, causing diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Stomach perforation
Rarely, complications of gastric bypass can be fatal.
It is important you understand the precautions and know the possible complication and side effects before having this Gastric Bypass Surgery. If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.
How do I prepare for Gastric Bypass Surgery?
If you qualify for gastric bypass, your health care team gives you instructions on how to prepare for surgery. You may need to have various lab tests and exams before surgery. Here are some recommendations:
- Before your surgery, give your doctor and any other health care providers a list of all medicines, vitamins, minerals, and herbal or dietary supplements you take. You may have restrictions on eating and drinking and which medications you can take.
- If you take blood-thinning medications, talk with your doctor before your surgery. Because these medications affect clotting and bleeding, your blood-thinning medication routine may need to be changed.
- If you have diabetes, talk with the doctor who manages your insulin or other diabetes medications for specific instructions on taking or adjusting them after surgery.
- You will be required to start a physical activity program and to stop any tobacco use.
- You may also need to prepare by planning ahead for your recovery after surgery. For instance, arrange for help at home if you think you’ll need it.
What happens during Gastric Bypass Surgery?
Surgery usually takes a few hours. Depending on your recovery, your hospital stay may last around three to five days.
Before you go to the operating room, you’ll change into a gown and be asked several questions by both doctors and nurses. In the operating room, you are given a general anesthetic before your surgery begins. The anesthetic is medicine that keeps you asleep and comfortable during surgery.
The specifics of your gastric bypass depend on your individual situation and the doctor’s practices. Some surgeries are done with traditional large (open) incisions in your abdomen. However, most are performed laparoscopically, which involves inserting instruments through multiple small incisions in the abdomen.
After making the incisions with the open or laparoscopic technique, the surgeon cuts across the top of your stomach, sealing it off from the rest of your stomach. The resulting pouch is about the size of a walnut and can hold only about an ounce of food. Normally, your stomach can hold about 3 pints of food.
Then, the surgeon cuts the small intestine and sews part of it directly onto the pouch. Food then goes into this small pouch of stomach and then directly into the small intestine sewn to it. Food bypasses most of your stomach and the first section of your small intestine, and instead enters directly into the middle part of your small intestine.
What happens after Gastric Bypass Surgery?
After surgery, you awaken in a recovery room, where medical staff monitors you for any complications.
mmediately after gastric bypass surgery, you may have liquids but no solid food as your stomach and intestines begin to heal. You’ll then follow a special diet plan that changes slowly from liquids to pureed foods. After that, you can eat soft foods, then move on to firmer foods as your body is able to tolerate them.
You may have many restrictions or limits on how much and what you can eat and drink. Your doctor will recommend you take vitamin and mineral supplements after surgery, including a multivitamin with iron, calcium and vitamin B-12.
You’ll also have frequent medical checkups to monitor your health in the first several months after weight-loss surgery. You may need laboratory testing, bloodwork and various exams.
If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.
What should you do after Gastric Bypass Surgery?
Some diet tips to keep in mind after gastric bypass surgery:
- Eat and drink slowly.
- Keep meals small.
- Drink liquids between meals.
- Chew food thoroughly.
- Focus on high-protein foods.
- Avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar.
- Try new foods one at a time.
- Take recommended vitamin and mineral supplements.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/143954-overview. Accessed June 28, 2018.
Gastric bypass surgery. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007199.htm. Accessed June 28, 2018.
Gastric bypass (Roux-en-Y). https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/gastric-bypass-surgery/about/pac-20385189. Accessed June 28, 2018.
WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY INSURANCE COVERAGE AND COSTS. https://obesitycoverage.com/weight-loss-surgery-insurance-coverage-and-costs/. Accessed June 28, 2018.
Gastric bypass diet: What to eat after the surgery. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/gastric-bypass-surgery/in-depth/gastric-bypass-diet/art-20048472. Accessed June 28, 2018.
Review Date: September 7, 2018 | Last Modified: September 7, 2018