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Gastric Bypass Surgery is a modern type of surgery which is performed in overweight or obese people. The aim of the surgery is to help person lose weight. This article covers the types and 'pros & cons' of gastric bypass surgery.

Gastric bypass surgery is among the various types of weight-loss surgeries that are available. It is one of the most common types of weight-loss surgeries in the U.S. It is generally preferred over all the other types due to its comparatively lesser complications. Gastric bypass surgery, like any weight-loss surgery, modifies the digestive system. It may do so by restricting the amount of food that can be eaten, by reducing nutrient reabsorption, or both. 

When is this type of Surgery performed?

Gastric bypass surgery is generally performed after ‘changes in diet and exercise’ has not helped in losing weight.

By making the modifications to the digestive system, gastric bypass surgery helps in weight reduction.

By doing so, it also helps evade the chances of weight-related health complications, such as:

  • Heart diseases, Hypertension and Stroke
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Severe Sleep Apnea

Who can opt for such a procedure?

There are certain specifications relating to whether you may undergo a gastric bypass surgery or any weight-loss surgery. These primarily include:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher; extremely obese category.
  • BMI in the range 35-39.9; obese category accompanied by severe weight-related problems.
  • BMI in the range 30-34, accompanied by severe weight-related problems.

What other Considerations are involved?

There are other considerations as well, besides being overweight that will determine whether gastric bypass surgery is right for you. These involve meeting the required medical guidelines, extensive screening, bearing the expense, your willingness for such a permanent change and participation in long-term follow-up plans, along with regular monitoring of nutrition, behavior, diet and health.

What Preparations need to be made before Surgery?

After qualifying the screening test, certain preparatory lab tests and exams are required before the surgery. Dietary specifications and medication is prescribed. A physical activity regime may be advised. Smoking and drinking is strictly prohibited.

How is the Procedure performed?

Traditionally, weight-loss surgeries were conducted using the ‘open surgery’ method - a single large incision was made in the abdomen and the necessary modifications were made. However, these procedures are now performed laparoscopically.

This minimally invasive procedure uses a laparoscope (flexible tube with a camera at one end) that is inserted via a small incision in the abdomen.

Several surgical instruments are inserted through other small incisions and the entire procedure is monitored using an external feed. This form of surgery involves a faster recovery.

What are the Risks and Complications?

Gastric bypass surgery involves certain short-term risks and complications. Some of these are listed below:

  • Excessive blood loss or clotting
  • Infection
  • Respiratory complications
  • Leaks in the gastrointestinal system

Long-term complications include:

  • Developing gallstones
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Formation of hernias and stomach perforations
  • Diarrhea, nausea and vomiting
  • Malnutrition
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Ulcers

Before gastric bypass surgery, surgeons run some lab tests to make sure if the patient is fit for the surgery. If there are any potential risks, the surgeons usually delay the surgery. However, if the benefits of the surgery outweigh the risks, the surgeons perform the surgery immediately.

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