Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries create changes to your digestive system to assist you to lose weight by limiting how much you can eat or by reducing the absorption of nutrients, or both. Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries are performed when diet and exercise haven't worked or when you have serious health problems because of your weight.
There are many types of weight-loss surgeries, referred to collectively as bariatric surgery. Gastric bypass is one of the most common types of bariatric surgery in the United States. Many surgeons prefer gastric bypass surgery because it generally has fewer complications than do other weight-loss surgeries. Nonetheless, all forms of weight-loss surgery, including gastric bypass, are major procedures that can pose serious risks and side effects. Also, you must make permanent healthy changes to your diet and get regular exercise to help ensure the long-term success of bariatric surgery.
Types of Gastric Bypass Surgery
Gastric bypass surgery that causes malabsorption and restricts food intake produces more weight loss than restriction operations like gastric banding, which only decrease food intake. People who have bypass surgery generally lose two-thirds of their excess weight within two years.
In general, gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries could be an option for you if:
Keep in mind that gastric bypass isn't for everyone who is severely overweight. You may need to meet certain medical guidelines to qualify for weight-loss surgery. You likely will have to go through extensive screening procedures to see if you qualify. The process also encompasses making permanent changes that lead to a healthier lifestyle. You may be required to participate in long-term follow-up plans that include monitoring your nutrition, your lifestyle and behavior, and your medical conditions.
Risks of Gastric Bypass Surgery
People who undergo gastric bypass surgery are at risk for:
Gastric bypass surgery also may produce "dumping syndrome," whereby stomach contents move too quickly through the small intestine. Symptoms include nausea, weakness, sweating, faintness, and, occasionally, diarrhea after eating, as well as the inability to eat sweets without becoming extremely weak. Gallstones can occur as a reaction to rapid weight loss. They can be dissolved with medication taken after the surgery.
Conditions related to nutritional deficiencies can include anemia secondary to the limited absorption of vitamin B-12 and iron, as well as osteoporosis and metabolic bone disease due to the lack of calcium absorption. People who undergo this procedure are required to take nutritional supplements that usually prevent these deficiencies.
The more extensive the gastric bypass surgery, the greater the risk for complications and nutritional deficiencies. Those who undergo extensive bypasses of the normal digestive process require not only careful monitoring, but also may necessitate the lifelong use of special foods and medications.