Gastric bypass

Gastric bypass surgery refers to a group of operations which are performed to help severely overweight individuals lose weight. The long term consequences of being overweight can include developing type II diabetes, cardiac and respiratory problems. As such, if individuals have attempted to lose weight with diet changes and increasing physical activity surgical management may be considered.

Gastric bypass procedures aim to significantly reduce the size of the stomach and this can be achieved with a number of slightly different surgical techniques. Common surgical techniques include:

  • Roux en-Y procedure (proximal)
  • Roux en-Y procedure (distal)
  • Mini gastric bypass

The stomach functions as a large pouch which holds the food we ingest. After being held in the stomach the food is released in to a long tube known (small intestine) which passes the food through for excretion. The above gastric bypass procedures divide the stomach, thereby forming a very small stomach pouch. The small intestine is then re-plumbed into this smaller pouch.

These procedures also bypass the upper part of the small intestine which reduces the amount of calories the body can absorb from food passing through the small intestine.

There are some general risks and complications with any type of surgery which include:

  • Anaesthetic risk
  • Wound infection
  • Blood clots (due to relative inactivity during recovery)
  • Nausea and fatigue following the operation

There are also some more specific risks associated with a gastric bypass procedures. These can include:

  • Deep abdominal infection sometimes leading to sepsis
  • Leakage of the stomach contents in to the abdominal cavity
  • Nutritional deficiencies which may lead to osteoporosis, anaemia, mineral deficiencies.

Following gastric bypass procedures, patients will be monitored closely to check for any signs of complications. Patients will be required to stay in hospital for several days after their operation to monitor for any potential complications and begin an adapted dietary plan with help of specialists.  

Patients will have an all liquid diet for a number of days following the surgery. Where no complications arise, patients will then be asked to progress on to a pureed diet for up to three to four weeks after the operation.

Solid food, starting with softer foods can begin to be eaten after a successful pureed diet has been followed. To reduce the likelihood of nutritional deficiencies patients will be asked to include certain vitamins and mineral supplements as part of their ongoing diet.

For patients who do adhere to a new, balanced diet following a gastric bypass procedure studies have demonstrated that patients can expect to lose up to sixty to seventy per cent of excess body weight.

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