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Gastric Bypass Surgery 

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Roux-en-Y (pronounced ROO-en-why) gastric bypass surgery is the most popular weight loss surgery in the United States, according to the American Society for Bariatric Surgery and the National Institutes of Health. In this procedure, the surgeon creates a small stomach pouch and then constructs a “bypass” for food. Because the bypass allows food to skip parts of the small intestine, the body cannot absorb as many calories or nutrients. Many, if not most, gastric bypass surgeries are performed using a minimally invasive, or laparoscopic, procedure.

Effectiveness of Surgery
The effectiveness of gastric bypass surgery depends upon many factors, including participation in pre-operative and post-operative education programs, ongoing support, age and the sex of the patient. The most important success factor is the patient’s commitment to follow recommended guidelines, incorporate healthy eating habits (high-protein, low-sugar and low-fat diet) and exercise.

In addition to eating a nutritious diet, patients need to space meals properly. For gastric bypass surgery patients, the small pouch and the rearrangement of the bowel make this easier because it helps eliminate hunger pangs and places a limit on the amount that can be eaten at one time. Surgeries are considered successful when patients lose 40 percent or more of their excess weight.

Having a full complement of professionals, including board certified surgeons, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered dieticians and experienced support staff is critical. A comprehensive program includes all of these disciplines.

Working with surgeons and hospitals deemed a “Center of Excellence” in weight loss surgery will provide patients with a setting that meets or exceeds the established standards of care.

Advantages of Gastric Bypass Surgery
According to our patient data:

Average best weight loss for patients undergoing laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery is 75 percent. 
All patients who have undergone gastric bypass surgery have lost weight. 
Two years after gastric bypass surgery, 98 percent of patients have lost more than 50 percent of excess weight with an average of 75 percent of excess weight.

Risks and Disadvantages of Gastric Bypass Surgery 

Because the duodenum – the first and shortest part of the small intestine -- and other sections of the small intestine are bypassed, poor absorption of iron and calcium can cause low total body iron and a greater chance of having iron-deficiency anemia. 

Patients who experience chronic blood loss during excessive menstrual flow or bleeding hemorrhoids should be aware of the chance of iron-deficiency anemia. Women, who are already at risk for osteoporosis after menopause, should be aware of the possibility of increased bone calcium loss. By taking a multivitamin and calcium supplements, gastric bypass surgery patients can maintain a healthy level of minerals and vitamins. 

Bypassing the duodenum, which is largely responsible for the breakdown of food in the small intestine, can cause metabolic bone disease in some gastric bypass surgery patients, resulting in bone pain, loss of height, humped back, and fractures of the ribs and hipbones. 

Eating foods rich in nutrients and taking vitamins can help patients avoid metabolic bone disease. 

Chronic anemia due to vitamin B12 deficiency may occur. The problem usually can be managed with vitamin B12 pills or injections.

A condition known as dumping syndrome can occur from eating too much sugar or large amounts of food. While it isn’t considered a serious health risk, the results can be very unpleasant. Symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, weakness, sweating, faintness and, on occasion, diarrhea.

Some patients are unable to eat sugary foods after surgery.

The bypassed portion of the stomach, duodenum, and parts of the small intestine cannot be seen easily using X-ray or endoscopy if there are problems such as ulcers, bleeding or malignancy. 

Gastric bypass surgery is a permanent, nonreversible procedure.

The procedure could result in death.

A certain amount of risk exists with any operation, and the risk is increased with patients who have had previous surgery of the stomach.

Wound infections can occur, leaks of the new pouch or at the sites of the intestinal connection are unlikely but can happen. 

Blood clots to the lungs can happen as with any operation but are very rare. 

Peptic ulcerations can occur.

Additional Information
Additional information can be obtained from the American Society for Bariatric Surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions
Gastric Bypass Surgery FAQs
General Weight Loss Surgery FAQs

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