Gastric bypass

Specifications regarding the circumstances of performing gastric bypass surgery

Gastric bypass surgery is recommended for patients who suffer from advanced morbid obesity (their BMI is over 50). These people require a significant weight loss in a relatively short timeframe.

The ideal patient to undergo this bariatric surgery has been suffering from obesity for 5 years, is between 18 and 65, has not had any alcohol problems, or any untreated psychiatric issues, such as depression.

What is gastric bypass?

Through gastric bypass surgery nourishment will pass through the intestines avoiding a large part of them, thus its absorbtion will be vastly reduced. The surgical intervention involves bypassing parts of the stomach by connecting the small intestine and the stomach through an alternative section in which the absorbtion of the nutrients will be done.

Practically the procedure transforms the stomach into a small pouch. This way the surgical intervention will restrict the quantity of food ingested by the patient, and will provide a shortened way of absorbing nutrients at the level of the small intestine.

For the moment gastric bypass surgery is done exclusively laparoscopically using minimally invasive methods.

The procedure of gastric bypass

The surgeon makes a small stomach pouch by stapling the upper part of the stomach together, creating a 15-20 ml upper pouch and a lower stomach. The small intestine is devided at about 50 cms from the duodenum being sewn to the pouch that had been created earlier. This way a Y-shaped circuit will be established, which in turn has benefits pertaining to the rate of nutrient absorbtion.

Gastric bypass will function along these lines: the patient is able to consume small quantities of solids, which pass through the small intestine without touching its maximum absorbtion areas. The fact that the intake avoids a part of the small intestine provides for excess weight loss because very few calories are absorbed. The ingested foods pass from the small intestine to the colon, and the undigested foods will be excreted.

The advantages of gastric bypass

  • Through this laparoscopic intervention in a period of 1-4 years following the surgery 65-80% of the excess weight can be lost. Most patients assert that in the first year after the surgical intervention they were able to lose weight with extreme ease.
  • The intervention contributes to ameliorating certain medical conditions associated with obesity, among which we can enumerate high bloodpressure (70% of patients reported improvements), heartburn, back pains, joint pains, sleep apnea.
  • After undergoing gastric bypass surgery other medical conditions associated with obesity disappear entirely. Such ailments include for example venous thromboembolism and pedal edema.
  • Symptoms of diabetes have dropped in a proportion of 90% and in some cases the disease has gone entirely into remission after the gastric bypass surgery.

The post-op period and rehabilitation following the intervention

In the first few days after the surgery the patient can consume liquids but has to avoid sweetened drinks (these are absorbed quickly and may result in heaving, diarrhea, sweating - dumping sindrome). After a few days he/she can consume semisolids. In about 3 weeks normal, chewable foods can be ingested. It is recommended that the patient consume products which contain mineral salts and vitamins, because the nature of the bypass surgery may lead to a deficiency thereof.

General post-op states and dietary restrictions can cause the patient to feel depleted of energy. To recover from this state and reach a renewed level of vital energy, a period of about 3 months is necessary.

The results of gastric bypass surgery will persist for several years after the intervention.

In order to provide an adequate monitoring of the weight loss process after the surgical intervention, a close cooperation between the physician and the patient is necessary.  The goal is a gradual weight loss, because losing the surplus weight at a fast pace may lead to serious health issues. 

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