Gastric Bypass: Decision Makers Should Talk About the Future

April 2021

A gastric bypass, or laparoscopic surgery, is a type of weight-loss surgery. It is considered one of the most effective operations for obesity and is performed when dieting and exercise have not been enough to reduce the number of kilograms. The effects are often dramatic because they cause changes in how your body absorbs food. A new approach to surgery for obesity has now been developed using endoscopic techniques. 

Gastric bypass is a weight loss technique where surgeons shorten your stomach and reconnect it further from the small intestine, so food takes longer to get digested and absorbed by your body. You will feel full more quickly and eat less as a result. The changes in eating patterns can also lead to a feeling of wellness, often called “the post-operative blues”, which make it easier for you to stay on the diet. 

Gastric bypass is usually performed by an endoscopic surgeon, who uses a telescope-like instrument called an endoscope, inserted through your mouth and nose down into the stomach. The surgery is done through one or both of your abdomen sutures (the scar across your belly). Gastric bypass is a weight-loss surgery procedure. It involves stapling off the top of your stomach so that you can only eat tiny bits of food at a time. You also need to wear special shoes and pants as they may not be able to fit over your legs after this. 

There are two types of gastric bypass operations: Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGB) and Vertical Gastrectomy with Duodenal Switch (VHD). RYGB creates an exit for food from the bottom portion of your stomach, while VHD just changes the stomach pouch, leaving the natural digestive process intact. 

The results differ greatly from person to person because everyone responds differently to specific surgical techniques. However most patients who have the surgery for weight loss will lose about ten percent of their excess body weight which is equivalent to a stone of weight. After surgery, you may gain some weight but over time you should lose the extra weight your stomach holds. 

If you are considering having gastric bypass as a treatment for obesity or other health issues, your surgeon will discuss with you the benefits and risks of the procedure, and provide information about your specific results and what to expect afterwards. It is important to remember that even though many people have had extensive success with this surgery, it's not for everyone. Obtaining informed consent from your medical team before undergoing gastric bypass is a must if you are unsure about whether to proceed with the surgery. Your surgeon will also give you information about the surgery before and after. 

The operation is done under local anaesthesia so your stomach is numb and so your feelings of pain are reduced. A short stay in hospital is required after the operation. You can go home soon after the operation, although some may need an ambulance to get home as they can be vulnerable if in pain or unable to walk. Some people will only have a short time off work because they get used to the new way of eating. 

Most people who have gastric bypass are able to maintain their health and lifestyle changes following the surgery that has helped them lose weight.

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