What is it?
Gastric Bypass, also medically known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or RNY, is a surgical bariatric procedure that physically alters the stomach and other digestive organs in order to reduce the amount of food one can eat and absorb at a time. It is a permanent surgery that reduces the size of the stomach causing the sensation of fullness after a smaller amount of food is ingested. It also involves surgically altering the anatomy of the digestive tract by “bypassing” a section of the small intestine so that fewer calories and nutrients are absorbed. The surgery is can be, and often is, performed laproscopically, which means surgeons make a few small incisions and use instruments, including a scope, to perform the surgery, thus avoiding large, unsightly scars.
Who is it for?
Gastric bypass surgery is a great option of those who have a large amount of weight to lose. Most insurances and surgeons won’t even consider covering or performing this procedure unless the individual’s BMI is greater than 35, or has serious obesity-related medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. When diet and exercise isn’t enough, the gastric bypass surgery can dramatically aid in significant weight loss and health benefits. Those interested in the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass should also be committed to eating smaller, healthier meals after the surgery, since the stomach will be reduced to about the size of a large egg.
Hospitalization and Aftercare
Since it is considered a major surgery, those having gastric bypass surgery are typically hospitalized for 1-3 days to ensure that no complications develop. The surgery itself, though, only takes about 1-2 hours. Full recovery takes 2-5 weeks before normal daily activities can be resumed. Abdominal soreness, bloating and/or swelling is not uncommon and can be expected the first few weeks of recovery. Detailed diet plans, vitamin supplements, exercise routines and counseling are often incorporated as important parts of a comprehensive approach to aftercare and assurance of long term weight loss success.
Expected Weight Loss
With gastric bypass surgeries, on average, individuals lose:
- 30% of their excess weight by 3 months
- 50% by 6 months
- 65% at 1 year
Risks of Gastric Bypass Surgery
- Like any major surgery, infection at the site of incision (surgical opening in the skin and abdomen)
- Blood clots in the legs or lungs (often due to inactivity from lying in the hospital bed), all of which can lead to death
- Nutritional deficiencies such as anemia and osteoporosis are common in gastric bypass surgeries since portions of the stomach and intestines, which absorb important nutrients and minerals, are bypassed
- Persistent nausea and frequent vomiting if you eat more than your stomach can hold or the nerves that serve your gut become sensitive
- Hernias that develop from weakened tissue and muscles at the incision sites
- Kidney stones can develop if you do not stay hydrated
- Hair loss and skin changes from nutritional deficits