- Restricting how much food your stomach can hold at any time. This is 'restrictive' weight loss surgery. Gastric banding is a restrictive type of surgery.
- Preventing your digestive system from absorbing all the nutrition in the food you eat. This is 'malabsorptive' surgery. Gastric bypass is a malabsorptive surgery in which a small pouch is created which empties directly into the small intestine. To make this work, the small intestine is severed. The doctor connects one end of it to an opening in the new stomach pouch. This way the food bypasses most of the stomach and the first part of the small intestine. That makes this surgery both restrictive and malabsorptive.
All types have risks and complications, such as infections, hernias, and blood clots. Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries are done when diet and exercise haven't worked or when a person has serious health problems because of weight. Gastric bypass surgery is done to help lose excess weight and reduce the risk of potentially life-threatening weight-related health problems, including:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Severe sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries are typically done only after one has tried to lose weight by improving diet and exercise habits. In general, gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries could be an option if:
- Your body mass index (BMI) is 40 or higher (extreme obesity).
- Your BMI is 35 to 39.9 (obesity), and you have a serious weight-related health problem, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or severe sleep apnea. In some cases, you may qualify for certain types of weight-loss surgery if your BMI is 30 to 34 and you have serious weight-related health problems.
But gastric bypass isn't for everyone who is severely overweight. One has to meet certain medical guidelines to qualify for weight-loss surgery after an extensive screening process to see if you qualify. One must also be willing to make permanent changes to lead a healthier lifestyle. The candidate may be required to participate in long-term follow-up plans that include monitoring nutrition, lifestyle and behavior, and other medical conditions. As with any major surgery, gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries pose potential health risks, both in the short term and long term.
Risks associated with the surgical procedure can include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia
- Blood clots
- Lung or breathing problems
- Leaks in your gastrointestinal system
- Death (rare)
Once a person qualifies for gastric bypass or other weight-loss surgeries, the health care team gives instructions on how to prepare for the specific type of surgery. One may need to have various lab tests and exams before surgery. There may be restrictions on eating and drinking and which medications one can take. The person may also be required to start a physical activity program and to stop any tobacco use. You may also need to prepare by planning ahead for your recovery after surgery like arranging for help at home if needed.
After gastric bypass and other types of weight-loss surgery, the patient is generally not allowed to eat for one to two days so that the stomach and digestive system can heal. Then, one needs to follow a specific diet for about 12 weeks. The diet begins with liquids only, then progresses to ground-up or soft foods, and finally to regular foods. There may be many restrictions or limits on how much and what one can eat and drink. There will be frequent medical checkups to monitor health in the first several months after weight-loss surgery. There may be a need for laboratory testing, blood work and various exams.
- Body aches
- Feeling tired, as if you have the flu
- Feeling cold
- Dry skin
- Hair thinning and hair loss
- Mood changes
Gastric bypass and other bariatric surgeries can provide long-term weight loss. The amount of weight loss depends on the type of surgery and change in lifestyle habits. It may be possible to lose half, or even more, of the excess weight within two years. In addition to weight loss, gastric bypass surgery may improve or resolve conditions often related to being overweight like gastroesophageal reflux disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and diabetes. Gastric bypass surgery can also improve the ability to perform routine daily activities, which could help improve one's quality of life.
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