Weight Loss Surgery Bariatric Types Gastric Bypass

Gastric bypass procedures are one type of bariatric surgery, which includes all such surgical remedies for weight loss and morbid obesity. While patients can undergo more than one type of gastric bypass operation, each bariatric surgery procedure changes one or more elements of the digestive tract.

Good Candidates for Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric bypass surgery is only appropriate for certain candidates. While guidelines vary, a doctor may deem the surgery a viable option for people who:

  • don’t have any serious psychological infirmity or drug/alcohol abuse problem
  • have a body mass index (BMI) of over 40
  • have another medical condition that is seriously exacerbated by being obese (such as hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea or cardiovascular disease)
  • have been consistently obese for several years
  • haven’t been able to achieve significant weight loss through diet, exercise or other medical means.

The Gastric Bypass Procedure

Gastric bypass surgery is meant to reduce the actual size of the stomach by up to 90 percent. The most common type of gastric bypass procedures, the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, proceeds in the following manner:

  1. An incision is made in the abdomen to access the stomach.
  2. A smaller stomach pouch is created by either stapling the current stomach together or by using a band to section off part of the stomach.
  3. A section of the intestines is attached to this stomach pouch, bypassing a significant section of the intestines.

This leads to reduced caloric intake and reduced calorie absorption by the body.

Other variations of the surgery take out a part of the stomach entirely. These more involved procedures are referred to as an extensive gastric bypass.

Gastric Bypass Surgery - BPD Bypass Surgery - Weight Loss Surgery

What to Expect after Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric bypass is an intensive surgery that will require a hospital stay while the patient recovers. While traditional gastric bypass procedures will require a four to six day stay in the hospital, less invasive procedures may only require the patient to stay two or three days in the hospital.

During the year following gastric bypass, most patients gradually lose a significant amount of weight. This can continue over approximately four years.

Patients’ bodies will take some time to get accustomed to the changed physiology associated with gastric bypass surgery. Some patients may experience a condition called “dumping” after surgery where ingested food moves through the digestive track too quickly. This may result in weakness, fainting, nausea and diarrhea shortly after the patient eats.

Risks of Gastric Bypass Surgery

As with any surgery, gastric bypass does have some risks, many arising from the complex retooling of the digestive tract. Studies indicate a 1 in 200 occurrence of death from gastric bypass surgery.

Common, general surgical risks include:

  • blood clot in the lung
  • complications arising from anesthesia
  • infection at the site of the incision.

Specific complications can also arise from this particular type of surgery. Should the stomach fluids leak into the abdominal cavity following surgery, an abdominal infection called peritonitis may result. Ulcers may also develop in the sensitive lining of the stomach.

Other possible complications of gastric bypass include:

  • gallstones
  • internal devices malfunctioning (staples coming lose or banding devices breaking, reversing the effects of the procedure)
  • nutritional deficiencies, particularly anemia (iron deficiency) and osteoporosis (calcium deficiency)
  • stomach pouch stretching over time, reducing the effectiveness of the procedure.

Nutritional deficiencies are the result of rerouting the digestive system, with the area of the intestines usually key in absorbing vitamins being entirely bypassed.

Other more minor side effects may include nausea, vomiting, hiccups and bloating.

Pros and Cons of Gastric Bypass

For those who are morbidly obese, gastric bypass can offer a wealth of advantages. The relatively fast, dramatic weight loss can alleviate symptoms from other diseases or conditions, help reduce stress on joints and ligaments and profoundly improve someones self-image and mental health. For many, gastric bypass may be the only viable solution after a lifetime of seeking help for weight loss.

However, because of the invasive nature of the surgery and serious possible side effects, anyone considering gastric bypass should extensively discuss the procedure with a medical professional.

Those choosing to undergo gastric bypass surgery will also need to be closely monitored by a physician for the rest of their life to ensure that ongoing complications do not arise and that nutritional deficiencies do not develop. In addition, patients will need to follow a special, with smaller portions of foods that are lower in fat and refined sugar, to minimize dumping and other digestive upsets.


Web MD (2008). Gastric Bypass. Retrieved April 21, 2008, from the WebMD Web site.

Web MD (2008). Gastric Bypass Surgery. Retrieved April 21, 2008, from the WebMD Web site.