Gastric Bypass Surgery

The gastric bypass was first performed several decades ago and has proven to be one of the most effective weight loss surgery procedures, both in terms of weight loss potential and the potential to improve or resolve many of the diseases associated with morbid obesity. Many bariatric surgeons consider gastric bypass the gold standard in bariatric surgery because of the exceptional results, combined with relatively lower risk when performed by an experienced bariatric surgeon.

The gastric bypass is performed minimally invasively rather than with the traditional, single, large incision of decades past. Four or five small, ½ to 1-inch incisions are made in the abdomen through which specially made medical devices are passed, including a laparoscope or high-definition camera. Today, virtually all our gastric bypass procedures are performed robotically, using advanced technology to improve outcomes, reduce pain, reduce the risk of complications and minimize the hospital stay.

How the gastric bypass works

The gastric bypass is essentially a two-phase procedure and requires approximately 1 to 1 ½ hours of operation time. First, the surgeon cuts away around 85% of the stomach pouch. What remains is about the size of a golf ball and holds very little food. At the stomach edges, a double staple line prevents the leakage of stomach fluid into the abdomen. Unlike the gastric sleeve, the portion of the stomach that is cut away remains in the gut; however, it does not receive food any longer.

During the second phase of the procedure, a portion of the small intestine is bypassed, meaning there is less surface area within the intestine to absorb calories. The remaining intestine portion is then attached to the new, smaller stomach pouch, and the surgeon creates an artificial stoma, or valve, between the stomach and small intestine.

Gastric bypass results

Gastric bypass is one of the more effective bariatric procedures and offers patients excellent weight loss potential. On average, about 80% of excess body weight is lost. Many diseases associated with morbid obesity are also improved or eliminated. One of the most significant benefits of gastric bypass is its effect on type 2 diabetes. Many patients find that they go into remission from diabetes within days or weeks of surgery, even before they have lost a significant amount of weight.  Research shows that the alterations to the small intestine seemingly “reset” gut bacteria in our bodies, which significantly affects insulin resistance. Of course, it is essential to remember that patient results will vary based on the willingness and ability to follow the prescribed post-operative lifestyle recommendations.

Recovery and Hospital Time

Because of the procedure’s minimally invasive nature, patients will spend less time recovering than they would for an open procedure. Patients will spend one to two nights in the hospital under evaluation. Longer-term, patients will be able to return to work within 4 to 6 weeks if their work does not require heavy lifting or strenuous activity. Patients should refrain from lifting heavy objects until cleared.

Benefits of the gastric bypass

  • Exceptional weight loss potential
  • Exceptional disease resolution or improvement potential
  • Of particular benefit for those who have type 2 diabetes or acid reflux
  • The procedure can be performed laparoscopically/robotically, meaning less blood loss, less pain, a shorter hospital stay, and a lower risk of infection
  • Bariatric surgery and stapled procedures, in general, require fewer follow-ups than the gastric band

Risks & Considerations of the gastric bypass

  • Risks are typical of any major surgical procedure. However, advances in technique and medical devices have drastically reduced perioperative and postoperative complications.
  • Patients will have a significantly restricted diet and need to supplement with vitamins and minerals for the rest of their lives.
  • The procedure is not reversible or adjustable. However, it can be revised in case of poor weight loss results.
  • A non-life-threatening condition known as dumping syndrome may occur if patients consume high-fat or high-sugar foods.
  • Some patients may experience the stretching of the stomach pouch and the opening to the small intestine over time, leading to poor weight loss or weight regain. These conditions can often be addressed with simple procedures.
  • The staple line may leak in rare cases, requiring emergency corrective surgery.

To learn about a gastric bypass and find out if it may be the right option for you, we encourage you to contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our bariatric surgeons.