The Bariatric and Hernia Institute
7500 Greenway Center Drive
Greenbelt, MD 20770
How Does the Gastric Bypass Work?
What Is Gastric Bypass?
The gastric bypass is considered the gold standard of weight loss surgical procedures. It is intended to help patients that are struggling with their weight and suffering from health problems related to their weight. It is typically offered to individuals who are 100 pounds or more over their ideal weight.
How Is It Performed?
Surgery is performed using laparoscopy. Several small incisions are made on the abdomen and surgery is performed with long instruments under the guidance of a camera. A large incision is avoided and recovery is faster than traditional operations.
What Happens During Surgery?
The stomach is cut into two parts with a stapling device. A small stomach pouch becomes the new stomach and the larger part of the stomach is left in place. The small intestine is cut, one part is attached to the new small stomach and the other part is reconstructed. The result is that the new stomach can only hold small portions of food, typically about 6-8 ounces per serving. The food is then diverted, bypassing the larger part of the stomach and parts of the small intestines.
Digestion and absorption of food is delayed due to the re-routing of the small intestine creating a phenomenon of malabsorption. This change in the anatomy of the intestines also leads to changes in the gut hormones.
Life After Surgery
The emphasis after surgery is to create habits that form the cornerstone of lifestyle changes. Patients adjust to gastric bypass by eating small healthy meals that are based on proteins. Meals are low in calories. Patients are also encouraged to have healthy protein snacks or fruits between meals. Hydration becomes very important after surgery. Patients are required to take vitamin supplementation to assist with overall nutrition. Routine exercise helps metabolism and helps to maximize the effects of surgery.
Patients that undergo gastric bypass typically lose 100 pounds or more over the first 18 months after the procedure. Many patients are able to improve their health as many of the health problems resolve after surgery. In fact, many diabetic and hypertensive patients are able to eliminate or reduce the need for their routine medications. Other conditions that have improvement include sleep apnea, acid reflux/heartburn, high cholesterol, arthritis, and chronic back pain.
Patients that are committed to healthy lifestyle practices typically have the best results.