Darting in and out of cabs, sauntering along crowded sidewalks and moving up and down staircases takes stamina, energy, and mobility. Obesity robs you of these abilities and it prevents you from enjoying simple pleasures that most people take for granted. If you are overweight or obese and you find that the excess weight affects your, you may want to consider a bariatric procedure like gastric bypass surgery. A gastric bypass will help you lose your excess body weight and reclaim your lost mobility.

What Is Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery, often referred to as gastric banding, is a surgical bariatric procedure Gastric bypass surgery has been around for close to 40 years and has proven to be durable and effective. Today, gastric bypass surgery is performed laparoscopically with minimal complications. During a gastric bypass procedure, your surgeon will take a small wedge out of the upper part of the stomach creating a small pouch. This pouch is roughly the size of an egg, and will serve as your new stomach. Your small intestine is then divided and the divided end is attached to the new stomach pouch. The other end of your small intestine is re-attached to the small intestine below the stomach. Except for your small gastric pouch, your entire stomach is bypassed along with part of your proximal intestine. The effect of the operation is twofold. The restrictive component comes from the small pouch with restricts the volume of food you can eat. The malabsorptive component comes from the intestinal reconfiguration. Some of the food you eat will pass through you and will not be absorbed. The combination of these two effects produces significant and sustained weight loss.

Benefits

Gastric bypass surgery provides multiple benefits to obese patients that need to lose a significant amount of weight. These benefits include: • Long and proven track record of success. • Significant weight loss that occurs faster than most other bariatric procedures. • Malabsorption that leads to your body absorbing fewer calories. • Decreased hunger due to reduced production of the hunger-controlling hormone ghrelin. • No hardware in the body that may break or erode. • Reduction or resolution of associated health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

Recovery

Although it is performed laparoscopically, gastric bypass surgery is still a complex procedure and requires you to remain in hospital for up to 2 nights. Once you are able to ingest liquids without vomiting, can move around on your own and no longer require pain medication, you will be able to continue your recovery at home. Most patients can return to their normal activities in about two weeks, and gradually increase activity levels as they lose weight and get used to their new digestive process.

Risks

Since gastric bypass is more involved than gastric banding and requires re-routing the small intestine, this procedure has more potential risks. Your surgeon will discuss these risks with you at your initial consultation. Potential risks include: • Infection of the incisions or in the abdominal cavity. • Blood clots in legs (deep-vein thrombosis) that can travel to lungs (pulmonary embolus) • Excessive bleeding • Gallstones (they develop in up to one-third of patients after surgery) • Lung issues, including pneumonia (happens in 10% of patients) • Anastomotic leak (leak at the staple line) • Stricture (when new connection between stomach and small intestine narrows due to scar tissue) • Ulcers around the staple lines

Gastric Bypass Side Effects

Apart from the potential health risks, there are also common side effects that can occur as a result of gastric bypass surgery. These include: • Nausea and Vomiting (due to eating too much for your new gastric pouch) • Loss of Muscle Mass (your body attempts to retain fat and resorts to burning muscle for energy; regular exercise and eating enough protein can prevent this from happening) • Hanging Skin (excess skin from rapid weight loss; you will consult with a plastic surgeon around the two-year mark for possible removal) • Transient Hair Loss (roughly 50% of female gastric bypass patients experience thinning hair) • Dumping syndrome (caused by sugar or fat entering small bowel at a much higher rate) • Nutritional Deficiencies (anemia, metabolic bone disease and osteoporosis are possible, but preventable with vitamin and mineral supplementation)

Dietary Guidelines After Surgery

Success with gastric bypass surgery depends largely on the patient sticking to the strict post-op diet prescribed by the surgeon. The post-op diet you will follow consists of three stages, with the end goal being a properly functioning digestive system. Stage One of the eating program consists of liquids, Stage Two is blended and pureed foods and Stage Three is the graduation to healthy solid foods. As you continue with your weight loss, your diet may be tweaked and modified by your nutritionist in order to provide the best results. After your goal weight has been realized, you will likely be given a diet plan to follow in order to maintain the weight loss and get all of the necessary nutrients for good health. Patients will also need to supplement with iron, calcium and other vitamins in order to meet daily recommended levels. Vitamin supplementation is critical for gastric bypass patients.

Follow Up Plan

Staying on track and maintaining your focus are critical parts of gastric bypass surgery success. Many patients falter by not showing up for follow up appointments in the weeks and months after the procedure. It is important to show up for your appointments, so your surgeon can gauge your progress and make recommendations for continued success. If you consider the follow up appointments as part of the overall procedure, you will have a higher likelihood of successful weight loss. Your follow up plan will include weigh-ins to evaluate your progress and consultations to go over your diet and exercise habits and to keep you motivated and moving in the right direction. It is important for every gastric bypass patient to realize that the surgery alone won’t give you the results you want. It requires teamwork and a commitment on your part to do what it takes to lose weight and keep it off. Gastric bypass is an effective procedure for long-term weight loss and reversal of serious obesity-related health conditions. If you’re ready to take the first step in your weight loss journey, contact the Manhattan office of the New York Bariatric Group today.