Gastric bypass surgery, also known as Roux-en-Y, is a bariatric surgery done to help individuals with obesity lose weight and enhance their health. It reduces the volume of your stomach and alters the way the small intestine and stomach absorb food, simplifying the weight loss process.
When Should You Consider Gastric Bypass Surgery?
Gastric bypass surgery is a very efficient solution for weight loss; however, it is not appropriate. Therefore, you need to talk to your doctor about the correct technique and what to expect before and after surgery.
You are considered a good candidate for gastric bypass surgery if:
- You have tried other weight-loss approaches but have failed.
- Your body mass index (BMI) is over 40.
- You have a BMI of 35 or higher and have other weight-related health problems.
- You have taken the time to learn about gastric bypass.
- You are determined to make lifestyle changes before and after gastric bypass surgery.
How to Prepare for Gastric Bypass Surgery
Before bariatric surgery, your doctor may order various tests to ensure gastric bypass is right for you. They will also ask you to do the following things:
- Engage in a lifestyle education program: Most insurance companies insist patients undergo a pre-operative program for at least six months to learn everything about the surgery, including the long-term and short-term recovery process.
- Lose weight: your doctor will advise you to start an exercise regimen and restrict your calorie intake to lose weight on your own before the surgery.
- Avoid caffeine: your surgeon may ask you to avoid caffeine at least one month before the procedure.
- Quit smoking: your doctor will urge you to quit smoking for at least three months before surgery. However, ceasing smoking reduces your risk of developing severe surgical complications, such as impaired wound healing.
Since gastric bypass surgery results are life-changing, preparing for it requires your commitment and time.
The Gastric Bypass Surgery Procedure
The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass has now been done for over fifty years. It is among the most popular surgical procedures in the US and is an efficient way of curing obesity and obesity-related diseases. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and will probably require you to stay in the hospital between three and five days.
First, the surgeon makes a small stomach pocket the size of an egg by vertical banding or stapling part of the stomach together. This limits the amount of food you can eat. Then, the stomach’s larger section is bypassed and no longer digests or stores food.
The surgeon also divides the small intestine and connects it to the new stomach pouch to enable food to pass. Next, they connect the section that empties the bypassed part of the stomach to the small bowel about three or four feet down, producing a bowel connection shaped like the letter Y.
The digestive enzymes and stomach acids from the circumvented stomach and the first part of the small intestine will mingle with your food.
How Gastric Bypass Works
The newly created stomach pocket is smaller and can contain less food, which means you will ingest fewer calories. Also, since the food does not contact the first part of the stomach bowel, there is decreased absorption.
The rerouting of the food course through the gastrointestinal tract has the significant effect of increasing fullness, decreasing hunger, and enabling the body to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. The effect on metabolic health and hormones usually causes an improvement of adult-onset diabetes even before commencing weight loss. The surgery also helps individuals with heartburn (reflux), and the symptoms often improve quickly.
Gastric Bypass Surgery Recovery
Recovering from a gastric bypass surgery often takes between three and six weeks. However, your “real” recovery lasts a lifetime. The reason is that after surgery, you must embrace strict exercise and eating habits to sustain your weight loss.
To maximize the chances of successful results after surgery, you must strictly adhere to your doctor’s post-operative instructions. These instructions will tell you when to go for checkups, the activities to restrict, and the types and amounts of foods and liquids to consume.