How Gastric Bypass Works (Plus the Cost, Types, Safety, Side Effects, and Anything in Between)
Weight issue is a serious issue. It is so serious that almost 30 percent of the world’s population belongs to the heavier side of the scale, thereby making them more prone to diseases. You can blame it on fast food and large portions of food every time you order in the restaurant, but the fact remains that the people of the world is getting bigger and you don’t need to be part of that.
The good news is you can do something about this and prevent yourself from crossing the line. Diet and regular exercise will always help in making sure that you stay in shape. Apparently, these strategies will take time before you see noticeable results. If you want something “quicker,” there is a procedure that is slowly making raves because it aims to help lose your weight by altering the way you eat.
This is called gastric bypass surgery.
Before you say yes to this procedure, stick around and let us tell you everything you need to know before you say yes to this surgery.
Understanding Gastric Bypass
Gastric bypass surgery is a type of restrictive operation that changes how your small intestine as well as your stomach handle food. As a result, your stomach will be smaller, food intake is restricted, calories as well as nutrients absorption is lessened, and you feel fuller easily, which leads to weight loss. Believe it or not, you can lose as much as 65 percent of your excess weight within a year from surgery.
Take note that this procedure permanently changes the way your body digests food. It also means gastric bypass is irreversible, so hitting the Ctrl + Z keys is not applicable. Once you’re in, you can never go out.
Requirements before the Surgery
Let’s say you’re willing to do it. That’s fine. Apparently, not everyone can be a candidate for this type of procedure. If you want to go through this, then you must meet the requirements:
- At least 40 body mass index or BMI with at least 100 pounds over the recommended weight.
- At least 35 BMI and is diagnosed with high blood pressure, sleep apnea, heart disease, joint pain, and diabetes among others since these conditions will improve after the surgery.
- You must have serious medical condition caused by obesity.
- There is difficulty in losing weight despite regular exercise and healthy diet.
How Gastric Bypass Works
Here are the steps during the gastric bypass surgery:
- First, the procedure makes your stomach smaller. By the use of staples, the surgeon will divide the stomach into two sections: small upper and large bottom sections. The top section is called pouch and is about a size of a walnut. This is where the food you eat will go and is only capable of holding 28 grams or about an ounce food, thereby making you eat lesser food.
- The second step is the bypass. A small part of your small intestine, also called jejunum, is connected to a small hole in your pouch. The food you will eat will now travel from the pouch, then into this new opening, and then the smaller intestine. As a result, your body will absorb lesser calories.
Check out the next section to find out the different ways on how to conduct gastric bypass procedure.
Different Types of Gastric Bypass
There are two ways on how to do this type of surgery under general anesthesia:
1. Open Surgery
In this procedure, your surgeon will make a large surgical cut to open the stomach. This will enable your surgeon to work on your stomach, small intestine, and other organs involved when you eat.
This type of gastric bypass surgery uses laparoscope, a tiny camera placed in your stomach, which is connected to a video monitor. In this procedure, your surgeon will make four to six small cuts in your belly area where the laparoscope and other thin instruments will be inserted through these cuts. This allows the surgeon to see what’s inside your stomach.
Between the two procedures, laparoscopy is more recommended because of the following reasons:
- Shorter hospital stay
- Less pain
- Faster recovery
- Lowers the risk of infection or hernia
Gastric Sleeve versus Gastric Bypass
Gastric bypass is the go-to procedure if you want a quicker and more effective way to lose weight. Apparently, there is another procedure that is slowly becoming popular and it goes by the name gastric sleeve.
What’s the difference between the two?
In terms of how they work, gastric bypass makes you feel fuller quickly while your body absorbs lesser minerals because stomach size is reduced and your intestines are rearranged. For gastric sleeve, you feel less hungry and feel fuller sooner while eating. This is because a portion of your stomach is removed to create a pouch connecting the esophagus to your small intestine.
When it comes to health benefits, gastric bypass has longer list of improved health conditions and is more likely to improve majority of obesity-related medical issues compared to gastric sleeve.
As to side effects, gastric sleeve and gastric bypass are the same, although the latter has higher risks and complications such as dumping syndrome and nutritional deficiency. Between the two, there is a higher chance that you will regain weight with the gastric sleeve procedure than gastric bypass.
In terms of cost, gastric bypass is more expensive than gastric sleeve.
All other aspects such as weight loss effects, qualifications, before-procedure preparations, and after-care routine are the same.
Pros and Cons of this Type of Surgery
Gastric bypass might be “demonized” by some, but there are actually benefits to it. This includes:
- A rapid and highly effective weight loss procedure, which allows you to lose at least 70% of your excess body weight in the first 18 months after your surgery.
- It helps improve various medical conditions such as sleep apnea, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, migraine, and depression among others.
- Lesser calories are absorbed due to bypassed intestines, which lead to, again, weight loss.
- Your hormones will also adjust as a result of weight loss, including reducing ghrelin or hunger hormone.
On the other hand, there are some not-so-good effects such as:
- Inability to absorb essential nutrients from the food you eat, which leads to vitamin and mineral deficiency.
- Dumping syndrome, which usually goes away through proper diet.
- Dental problems, although not all patients will experience this.
- Digestive issues like indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, and difficulty in swallowing.
- Development of kidney stones, which is usually a result of not getting enough hydration.
Before and After Gastric Bypass Surgery
Here’s what you need to do before the procedure:
- Complete physical exam, ultrasound of the bladder, blood tests, and other tests to ensure you are healthy.
- Inform your doctor about medications you are currently taking, both herbal and prescribed drugs.
- Undergo nutritional counseling.
- Regular visits to the doctor, especially when you have medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart issues.
- If you smoke, then you need to stop it for at least three weeks prior to surgery. Smoking slows down healing and recovery, and could also pose risks during and post-surgery.
- Stay away from medicines that could cause blood clot. This includes ibuprofen, aspirin, warfarin, and vitamin E among others.
- Avoid eating and drinking anything the night before your surgery.
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions and clarifications about the procedure. You need to be
- informed as much as you can to better understand how gastric bypass works.
As soon as you’re done with the gastric bypass procedure, you will be asked to take a few steps hours after the surgery. Eating solid foods may not be possible for the first three days, so take lots of liquids and soft foods. Catheter (for urine) and tube will be connected to your body to help you drain fluids.
Normally, you can go home after three to five days, depending on how fast you recover from the operation. If you don’t feel any pain when moving, and you can eat soft food without vomiting, then you can be discharged.
Here’s what you need to do as soon as you return home:
- Take pain medication to reduce pain. Make sure to follow the prescribed frequency since too much pain relievers may cause constipation.
- Walk around your house frequently. If you feel pain or exhaustion, stop and don’t force it.
- Keep yourself hydrated, but avoid using straw to reduce the risk of swallowing air, which could contribute to pressure on your new stomach.
- Sleep as much as you can. A slight incline from your usual sleeping position could also help reduce pain in your stomach.
- Avoid lifting and other strenuous exercises at least six weeks from surgery.
Risks, Complications, and Side Effects of Gastric Bypass
Gastric bypass surgery may restrict your food and caloric intake; hence helping you lose weight fast. Despite its good intentions, there are risks and complications associated with this kind of procedure. This includes:
- Allergic reaction to medicines or anesthesia
- Blood clot in your legs, also called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is at a higher risk during the first six weeks post-operation.
- Saggy skin due to sudden weight loss
- Gastritis or inflamed stomach lining
- Injury to your stomach, intestine, or other organs especially while the procedure is performed
- Scarring inside the belly that could lead to difficulty in bowel movements
- Leakage on areas where parts of your stomach were stapled
- Shrinkage of openings in your intestine
- Development of gallstones as a result of rapid weight loss
- Vomiting, bloating, or nausea since your stomach can either no longer hold the food you eat or food is dumped quickly into the intestines before it is properly digested. This is also the most common complication experienced by people who undergo gastric bypass procedure.
- Distention of the blind stomach or bottom part of your stomach that is no longer used. This is rare, but has to be treated early.
Cost of Gastric Bypass Surgery
First things first; if you have an insurance policy that includes bariatric surgery, then you can use that to cover the expenses. Otherwise, you have to pay an amount between €6,500 and €13,000 (approximately $20,000), depending on the country where the surgery will be done. This amount includes:
- Medical exams
- Consultation fees prior to the actual surgery
- Surgeon’s professional fee
- Anesthesia, tools, and other instruments used during the procedure
Take note that the cost does not include after-care, which is another set of expenses. In that case, don’t forget to ask your doctor for discounts and financing options since getting a gastric bypass surgery is not that easy on the pocket.
Life After Gastric Bypass
Going through gastric bypass surgery requires a change in your lifestyle. Just because you are losing weight, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about your health. Keep in mind that gastric bypass could restrict your body’s ability to absorb nutrients – and now is the best time to ensure your health.
Here’s what you should include in your lifestyle:
- Eat six small meals everyday and avoid snacking in between meals.
- Drink at least two liters of water everyday. When drinking, take small sips and avoid drinking during meals so it won’t fill you up easily.
- As soon as you feel full, stop eating.
- Go for low-fat protein sources like fish, skinless chicken, lean meat, whole eggs, and beans.
- Take supplements to ensure that your body will still get the necessary nutrients to keep you healthy and functioning.
- Avoid sugary foods, foods high in fat and carbs, alcohol, and carbonated drinks.
Alternatives to Gastric Bypass
- Prescription weight loss drugs such as appetite suppressants and lipase inhibitors
- Strict and medically-supervised diet and exercise plan
- Endoscopic or non-surgical weight loss procedure like gastric balloon
- Other surgical weight loss procedures such as LAP-BAND, gastric sleeve, and vBloc therapy
Still, the question remains. Is gastric bypass procedure the best strategy to help you lose weight? That depends. Re-read this post and seek help from medical professionals to help you determine the right procedure for you.