Healthy Living

Everything You Need to Know About Gastric Bypass Surgery

Everything You Need to Know About Gastric Bypass Surgery

What is a gastric bypass surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery is a procedure that makes changes to the digestive system, including the stomach and small intestine. This type of surgery can help lose weight by decreasing the absorption of nutrients, restricting how much a person can eat, or both. This surgical procedure is usually done when exercise and diet didn’t work. It could also be done when an individual has serious health problems due to his or her weight.

After surgery, the stomach becomes smaller, and the patient will feel full with a fewer food intake. In addition, the body will not be able to get all the calories from the food because the food eaten will not be going into some parts of the stomach and small intestine, which absorb food.

Gastric bypass surgery is one of the most common forms of bariatric surgery. In fact, it is the gold standard for bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery is a collective term for weight loss surgeries. Gastric bypass surgery is preferred by a lot of surgeons because it has fewer complications compared to other weight loss surgeries.

With gastric bypass surgery, a person will not only lose weight. Below are some of the benefits of gastric bypass surgery:

  • Be able to absorb fewer calories from food
  • Will not be able to consume large meals
  • Can eliminate or improve type 2 diabetes
  • Will not get sick from eating too much food containing carbohydrates or sugar
  • Improved metabolism
  • An increase in one's testosterone level 
  • Medications for high cholesterol or high blood pressure may be eliminated
  • Improved quality of life
  • Will feel more confident and more energetic

All types of weight loss procedures, including gastric bypass surgery, are major procedures that can pose serious health complications and side effects. Gastric bypass surgery is an excellent way of losing weight and must be seriously considered by people who are interested in bariatric surgery.

Why is gastric bypass surgery performed?

Gastric bypass surgery is done to lose excess weight as well as decrease the risk of the harmful effects of weight-related medical problems such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), and severe sleep apnea.

It is typically done when conservative managements such as dieting and exercise were not effective to lose weight. Gastric bypass surgery can be done in two ways: open surgery and laparoscopic. 

With open surgery, the surgeon makes a large incision to open the belly. Then bypass is performed by working on the stomach, small intestine, as well as other organs. On the other hand, laparoscopic surgery is done by using a laparoscope. It is a device with a camera attached on its end that allows the surgeon to see what is inside the belly. The laparoscope will be placed in the belly. Laparoscopy is more preferred than open surgery because of its advantages, and they include:

  • a quicker recovery
  • shorter stay in the hospital
  • smaller scars
  • lesser pain
  • a decreased risk of having an infection or hernia

Types of Gastric Bypass Surgery

  • Roux-en-Y - This is the most common procedure of gastric bypass. Roux-en-Y is usually not reversible. This surgery works by reducing the quantity of food a person eats in a single sitting and decreasing the absorption of nutrients.
  • Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch - It is a complex type of gastric bypass surgery that involves removing about 80 percent of the stomach.
  • Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding (LAGB) - With this type of gastric bypass surgery, the stomach is separated into two parts. This procedure is a common weight loss surgery because of its simplicity. 
  • Vertical Banded Gastroplasty -  is also referred to as stomach stapling. Vertical banded gastroplasty also divides the stomach into two, thus, limiting the amount of food to be eaten.
  • Sleeve Gastrectomy - This is a newer form of weight loss procedure. It is also called as vertical sleeve gastrectomy. In this procedure, the structure of the stomach is changed to a tube-shaped structure that can restrict a number of calories that the body will absorb.

The type of gastric bypass surgery to be performed on a patient depends on a specific situation. The surgeon will consider various factors such as body mass index, health problems, eating habits, risks of each surgical procedure, and previous surgeries into account.

Candidates for Gastric Bypass Surgery

You are a candidate for gastric bypass surgery if:

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is 40 or higher, which means extreme obesity.
  • You have a body mass index (BMI) that ranges from 35 to 39.9, indicating obesity, and have a serious weight-related problem such as high blood pressure, severe sleep apnea, or type 2 diabetes. In some cases, having a BMI of 30 to 34 may qualify in some weight loss surgeries only if they have serious weight-related problems.

However, gastric bypass is not for everyone who is severely overweight. Certain medical guidelines must be met to be able to qualify for any weight loss surgery. An extensive screening will be done to check if a person is qualified to undergo such procedures. Having gastric bypass surgery or other weight loss procedures is not the final step towards losing weight. After surgery, permanent changes in having a healthier lifestyle must be made. These include eating healthy foods, daily exercise, and controlling portion sizes of the food to eat. If these measures are not religiously followed, complications from the surgery may arise as well as poor weight loss.

What are the risks?

Gastric bypass surgery and other weight loss surgeries are major surgical procedures can have potential health risks.

Potential risks may include:

  • Infection
  • Profuse bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Leaks in the gastrointestinal system
  • Lung problems
  • Death in rare cases

Long-term risks may also arise. They are:

A more extensive gastric bypass surgery can have a greater risk for complications as well as nutritional deficiencies. A person who undergoes an extensive gastric bypass of the normal digestive course will require close monitoring and lifelong use of medications and special foods.


Patients usually spend a maximum of three days in the hospital, and most of them fully recover after four to six weeks. Recovery time also depends on the size of the surgical cut made. Most people who had gastric bypass surgery lose 10 to 20 pounds per month within the first year after surgery. Then, weight loss will lessen over time. To lose more weight, stick to exercise and dieting from the beginning.

In the first two years, half or greater than half of the extra weight may be lost. Sticking on a liquid or pureed diet will help patients lose their weight rapidly after surgery. Losing adequate weight after surgery can help improve medical conditions such as:

To avoid complications and to lose weight after a gastric bypass surgery, it is necessary to follow the eating guidelines and exercise that the surgeon or dietitian has advised. With a lesser weight, it would be much easier to move around and perform daily activities and routines.