Random Facts

Today's Medical Fact

Eating breakfast helps to burn calories throughout the day.

Log in

Subscribe Buttons

Feed Icon
HomeHealth A-Z Gastric Bypass Surgery
Gastric Bypass Surgery
Gastric Bypass Surgery
The most common gastric bypass procedure performed in the US is the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.

Gastric Bypass Surgery

Definition of Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric bypass surgery is a non-reversible bariatric (weight loss) surgical procedure that facilitates weight loss thru a combination of food restriction, malabsorption, and dumping syndrome.

Description of Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric bypass surgery is a surgical procedure performed for the treatment of obesity. The procedure involves creating a smaller stomach pouch and rerouting the stomach outlet to bypass the upper part of the small intestine. The placement of the stomach outlet on the intestine affects the levels of food absorption by the digestion system. The more of the intestine that is bypassed, the less the amount of food and nutrients that can be absorbed by the body. Gastric bypass surgery is permanent and cannot be reversed.

The most common gastric bypass procedure performed in the US is the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RGB). With RGB, the original stomach is divided and stapled off, leaving just a tiny pouch for the new stomach area. The stomach outlet is then attached to the middle part of the small intestine.

A more extensive gastric bypass procedure is the biliopancreatic diversion. With this procedure, the lower stomach area is completely removed and the stomach outlet is attached to the end of the small intestine. The biliopancreatic diversion procedure aids with weight loss but is not widely used because of the high risk for nutritional deficiencies.

Gastric bypass surgery can be performed using either open surgery methods or laparoscopic techniques. Open surgery is when a large incision is made and the body is opened up to reveal the operation area. A less invasive technique is laparoscopic surgery, a method of surgery that requires only a few small incisions into which a laparoscope and special surgical instruments are inserted to perform the operation. The laparoscope is a camera that transmits an image of the operation area onto a monitor, allowing the surgeons to perform the surgery without opening the body. By applying laparoscopic techniques to perform gastric bypass surgery it eliminates the need for a large abdominal incision and offers the advantages of a faster recovery, less pain after surgery, and less scarring.

How Gastric Bypass Surgery Works

Gastric bypass surgery facilitates weight loss thru a combination of food restriction, malabsorption, and dumping syndrome.

Food Restriction: With gastric bypass surgery, a smaller stomach is created in order to restrict the amount of food that can be eaten at any one time. The newly created stomach can only hold about two ounces of food; thus, less food can be eaten at any one time. It also causes a feeling of fullness after eating only a small amount of food, reducing the desire to eat.

Malabsorption: Malabsorption is the decreased absorption of nutrients and calories from food that is consumed. This is achieved with gastric bypass surgery by rerouting the stomach outlet and attaching it to a lower portion of the small intestine, bypassing the upper part of the small intestine. As a result, less nutrients and calories is absorbed by the digestive system than if the food had passed thru the entire small intestine.

Dumping Syndrome: Not only is the amount of food restricted following gastric bypass surgery, but the type of food that can be eaten is restricted as well. Because the digestive system is changed, the body is often not able to tolerate sugars and fats. This condition, commonly referred to as dumping syndrome, produces symptoms of nausea, weakness, faintness, sweating, and diarrhea. Dumping syndrome reduces the consumption of high calorie foods containing sugar and fat, thus facilitating weight loss.

Gastric Bypass Surgery Patient Criteria

Gastric bypass surgery is generally limited to patients who are considered morbidly obese (at least 100 pounds overweight). The procedure permanently alters a person's body and should only be considered if all other weight loss options have failed.

A person who is overweight and considering weight loss surgery should talk to his or her primary care doctor about the options. If the primary care doctor agrees this may be a beneficial option to pursue, the patient will be referred to a bariatric surgeon, a doctor who specializes in weight loss surgery.

The bariatric surgeon will review a patients medical history and weight loss history in order to determine if the patient is a good candidate for weight loss surgery. The surgeon will consider a person's age, weight, and any existing health conditions, particularly weight-related conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea. The surgeon will also want to know about a person's efforts to lose weight thru diet, exercise, or medication.

Gastric Bypass Surgery Weight Loss Results

Gastric bypass surgery has helped many obese people control their eating and lose weight. On average, gastric bypass patients lose about two-thirds of their excess weight within two years. Weight loss surgery alone, however, will not guarantee long-term weight loss. Gastric bypass is a tool to help a person lose weight, but successful long-term weight loss will depend on healthy eating habits and regular physical activity as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

External Resources

NIH - MedlinePlus

HealthJolt © 1998 - 2017 All Rights Reserved
HealthJolt™ does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Disclaimer