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Gastric Bypass Surgery
















What is gastric bypass surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery

Gastric bypass is more complex than lap banding, and may be performed in a number of different ways. The most common method involves closing off most of the stomach, making it much smaller than before. This reduces how much food you need to eat before feeling full. Part of the intestine is then 'hitched up' and sewn into a new opening in the stomach. This allows the food to 'bypass' a large amount of intestine, reducing how much gets absorbed.



How is gastric bypass surgery performed?

The procedure may be via keyhole surgery, or 'open' surgery. Keyhole surgery leaves small scars on the abdominal skin, whereas open surgery leaves a larger scar. The open method tends to be quicker, though, requiring less time under general anaesthesia. Hospital stay is usually about 3-4 days, or a little longer for open surgery.

The method used will depend on a number of factors, and your specialist will be able to discuss which method would be the best for you.


What are the benefits of gastric bypass surgery?

On average, about 75% of excess weight is lost in the first two years. This can help with a range of medical problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, joint pains and asthma.

It should be noted, though, that gastric bypass requires motivation and commitment from the patient. Nutrition advice and exercise schedules should be strictly adhered to in order to get the most from this surgery.


What risks are involved with gastric bypass surgery?

Whilst bypass can be very beneficial, there are serious risks which should be carefully considered. These include:

  • Infection - minor infections can usually be treated with antibiotic tablets, although more serious infections may need admission to hospital for treatment.

  • Leaks - when the stomach is closed off and stitched to the intestine, tiny holes may go unnoticed. These may lead to leaks, which may need further procedures to close.

  • Clots - clots in the calf can cause pain, swelling and redness. If these move to the lung, they can cause shortness of breath and even death. Overall mortality from gastric bypass is rare, being less than 1% in experienced hands.

  • Malabsorption - due to part of the intestine being bypassed, certain vitamins and minerals can fail to be absorbed. This may need long-term supplements being added to the diet.

  • Dumping syndrome - if a large amount of sugar is eaten, the body may respond poorly, with abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and dizziness.



Other SurgeryWise articles

You may also be interested to read our article on lap banding or weight management



Any procedure involving skin incision can also result in unfavourable scarring, wound infection, or bleeding. This list of risks is not exhaustive, and you should discuss possible complications with your specialist. Whilst these risks will seem very worrysome, and indeed can be serious, it should also be borne in mind that many people have no postoperative problems whatsoever.

The information provided is for guidance only and you should discuss matters fully with your specialist before deciding if this is the right procedure for you. Please also read our disclaimer






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