Gastric Bypass, also known as the Roux-en-Y, is a major abdominal surgery. For the average patient, the surgery takes 90 minutes to 2 hours and requires a 2-3 day hospital stay.
During the surgery, the stomach is reduced from 32 ounces to about 2 ounces. The surgeon reroutes and reattaches the intestine to the new, smaller stomach.
The surgery has two components – restrictive and malabsorptive. The reduction in stomach size restricts the amount of food a patient can consume. The rerouting of the intestine causes less efficient absorption of nutrients. For both reasons, gastric bypass patients tend to lose more of their excess weight and lose the weight more rapidly than patients with a gastric band.
Post-operative nutritional follow up is critical for all patients. The malabsorption component of the gastric bypass can lead to something called “dumping syndrome”. While this is not considered to be medically dangerous it can be extremely unpleasant. It is usually caused by eating sugary foods/drinks and can lead to cramping, nausea/vomiting and diarrhea. Dumping Syndrome will generally resolve itself after 1-3 hours. While the symptoms of dumping syndrome are very unpleasant, some patients find it to be an advantage. The discomfort is a real motivator in keeping patients away from sugary/unhealthy food choices. (Check out our nutrition tips discussed by our nutritionist, Wynnie Hoodis.)
Advantages of Gastric Bypass
- “Permanent” solution
- Both restrictive and malabsorptive
- More rapid weight loss
- Studies show greater percentage of excess body weight lost (80-90 percent)
- Greater percentage of weight kept off with long term follow-up (5-10 years)
- Greater risk of vitamin and nutritional deficiencies if not properly managed with your surgeon
- Risk of “dumping syndrome” – (no health risk, just unpleasant!)
- 2-3 day hospital stay
- Not easily reversed
- Increased chance of ulcers, especially in smokers, if taking aspirin and/or anti-inflammatory drugs
Listen to Dr. Bilof speak about the Gastric Bypass on the GSBWC podcast, Winning Through Losing.
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