What is gastric bypass surgery?
Gastric bypass surgery, also called Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, is a safe and common option for long-term weight loss. It is a minimally-invasive procedure that involves the use of a tiny camera to see inside the belly during the procedure. This causes less pain than traditional surgery and allows for quicker recovery.
During the procedure, a portion of the stomach is divided off creating a small pouch that only holds about one ounce of food. This causes reduced calorie intake and nutrient absorption that results in weight loss. After surgery, the patient experiences a feeling of fullness after eating just a few bites.
Before gastric-bypass surgery, candidates need to completely understand the procedure and lifestyle changes that will be required. Patients cannot rely on the surgery alone to achieve their weight-loss goals. For optimal weight loss and maintenance, patients must also maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly. The greatest weight loss usually occurs in the first year to 18 months after surgery. Patients often lose 50 to 70 percent of excess body weight.
Who is eligible for gastric bypass?
To qualify for gastric bypass, patients must meet certain criteria set by the National Institutes of Health. Qualifications include:
- A body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater
- A BMI of 35 or greater and at least two obesity-related co-morbidities (hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, sleep apnea, etc.)
Other criteria may apply. Talk to your provider to find out if you are a candidate for gastric bypass surgery.
Gastric bypass benefits
Gastric bypass surgery helps patients with obesity achieve long-term weight loss goals. Some advantages of gastric bypass surgery include:
- Long-term sustained weight loss
- Normalized blood sugar levels
- Reduced cholesterol levels
- Reduced blood pressure
- Relief from sleep apnea and acid reflux
- Overall improvements in quality of life.
Gastric bypass: Before surgery
Ask your surgeon for information on risks associated with gastric bypass surgery. Surgeons will require certain visits and evaluations for patients before surgery. Some of these may include:
- Review of medical history
- Physical exam
- Nutrition counseling and education
- Social work evaluation to ensure your emotional readiness for lifestyle changes
- Information sessions to learn what happens before, during, and after surgery.