Gastric bypass: what is it?

What is Gastric bypass

Gastric bypass is surgery that helps you lose weight by changing how your stomach and small intestine handle the food that you eat. It makes you feel full with less food because your stomach will be smaller. Here’s everything you need to know about the surgery and whether it’d be suitable for you.

Two steps 

The first thing to know is that there are two steps to gastric bypass surgery. The first step is to make your stomach smaller: the surgeon will use staples to separate different parts of your stomach. Then the second step is the bypass itself. Your surgeon connects a small part of your small intestine to a small hole in your pouch. The food you eat will now travel from the pouch into this new opening and into your small intestine. As a result, your body will absorb fewer calories. 

Types of surgery

A gastric bypass can be completed via open surgery (your surgeon makes a large surgical cut to open your belly) or less invasively with a laparoscope – a small camera that allows the surgeon to see inside your stomach.

Benefits of gastric bypass 

You will lose around 70% of your extra weight but this does depend on personal circumstances. Many notice quick improvements in their obesity conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol and sleep apnea. It’s also likely that carrying less weight will ease the pressure on your body: lower back pain, knee damage and other joint pain should be lessened.  

How to prepare  

Smokers should quit several weeks before their surgery. Your surgeon may request you stop taking certain drugs and which you can take on the day of surgery. As with all surgery, there are risks. Complications that can occur include shrinkage of the opening into the intestine, leakage at stomach and intestine reconnection sites, and excess skin following the weight loss.

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Can you get a bypass?

There are medical guidelines on whether you can get a gastric bypass or not. You have a BMI of 40 or more and an obesity-related condition that might improve if you lost weight. You’ll also need to have exhausted all other potential avenues of losing weight – in other words, nothing else has worked. 

Life after surgery 

There are plenty of commitments you’ll need to adhere to for life after surgery.  You’ll have to agree to making healthy lifestyle changes after the surgery and attend regular check-ups with a doctor. Speak to your GP or the surgeon prior to the surgery.

Having a gastric bypass is an important decision that requires plenty of thought. By absorbing the information above you should be well-placed to make the right decision for you.


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