A gastric bypass (also called Roux-en-Y) involves stapling your stomach to create a smaller stomach ‘pouch’ and then bypassing the rest of your stomach and part of your bowel (see figure 1). It works by making you feel full sooner so that you eat less, and by preventing some of the calories and nutrients in your food from being absorbed.
If your BMI score is over 40, surgery may help you to achieve long-term weight loss. Surgery may also help if you have a BMI over 35 and have other medical problems such as Type-2 diabetes or high blood pressure.
Your surgeon will confirm your BMI score and carry out a detailed assessment before deciding if surgery is suitable for you.
You should be able to achieve long-term weight loss, but this depends on your ability to keep to your new lifestyle.
Long-term weight loss should improve most obesity-related health problems you may have.
The simple approach to losing weight involves eating less, improving your diet and doing more exercise. Sometimes medication given by your GP can help.
There are other surgical options to a gastric bypass, such as gastric banding, shortening your digestive tract and sleeve gastrectomy.
It may be possible to have a gastric balloon, but a gastric balloon can stay in place for only up to nine months.
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes two to four hours.
Your surgeon will make several small cuts on your abdomen. They will insert surgical instruments, along with a telescope, so they can see inside your abdomen and perform the operation.
Your surgeon will create a tunnel behind your stomach. They will pass a stapling device through the tunnel and then staple your stomach to create a smaller stomach pouch.
Your surgeon will divide your small bowel below your stomach. They will bring up the lower end and attach it to your new stomach pouch. The contents of your new stomach pouch will now bypass the rest of your stomach and the first part of your small bowel.
You should be able to go home the next day.
You will be able to take only liquids for a few weeks, progressing to soft food and then, after about four to six weeks, to solid food.
You should be able to return to work after two to four weeks, depending on the extent of surgery and your type of work.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
On average, people who have a gastric bypass lose over half their excess body weight.
Author: Mr Ian Beckingham DM FRCS
Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com
Expected length of hospital stay
Up to two nights stay
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