Many people refer to gastric bypass surgery as the “gold standard” in weight loss surgery procedures. One type of gastric bypass is known by the name Roux-en-Y procedure. (The name roux-en-y is a combination of the name of the surgeon, Cesar Roux, who described the procedure and the “y” component is a rough approximation of a diagram of the operation.)
Gastric bypass operations achieve weight loss for obese patients by both restricting the amount of food that can be eaten and by restricting the absorption of nutrients in the small intestines. The combination of these two restrictions can result in a significant loss of weight.
During surgery, the size of the stomach is reduced. The smaller stomach is connected to the middle part of the small intestine. This reconfiguration results in food “bypassing” the rest of the stomach and the duodenum (the top part of the small intestine). This surgery can also be done laparoscopically with smaller surgical instruments and a miniature surgical camera.
A gastric bypass is a surgical weight loss option for patients with a BMI (body mass index) of greater than 40 who have not been successful losing weight through diet, exercise or weight loss medications. Surgery is a tool to help patients lose weight, but should be accompanied by a lifelong commitment to recommended eating habits and regular exercise. While patients can lose half of their excess weight with gastric bypass surgery, some patients gain back as much as 20 to 25% of the weight they lose after surgery ten years post-surgery. People who stick to a prescribed eating regimen and are physically active have a better chance of maintaining long-term weight loss.
Your doctor will prepare a customized plan for your care post-surgery. You will have to limit your activity for several weeks and there may be pain or significant discomfort which will need to be managed effectively for your comfort and to aid in the healing process.
A strict diet regimen will be developed for you to follow to make sure you do not get dehydrated, experience discomfort from eating too much, and to avoid diarrhea and constipation. You will feel full on much less food than you are used to and eating more than your doctor advises will only stretch your stomach and defeat the purpose of having surgery.
The upper part of your small intestines is where most of the absorption of nutrients takes place in the digestive system. A gastric bypass goes around this section of the intestines and may result in a deficiency of vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium as well as vitamin B12. Most patients will need to take a multi-vitamin and mineral supplements for the rest of their lives.
There are risks to gastric bypass surgery that include infections, blood clots, gallstones, anemia, osteoporosis and others. Vomiting and nausea are not uncommon if the patient eats more than the capacity of their new stomach. Kidney stones and hernias can also occur as a result of surgery.
Gastric bypass weight loss surgery may be effective in helping patients with heart problems, diabetes, and cancer that are comorbid conditions with obesity.