Gastric bypass surgery is a surgical weight loss procedure that is offered to morbidly obese individuals who have not managed to achieve weight loss using alternative techniques such as improved lifestyle changes, dietary changes, exercise and medication.
Morbidly obese individuals are more likely than the general population to suffer from serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and arthritis, which can impact on patients’ quality of life and reduce their life span.
A gastric bypass procedure involves a small pouch being created in the upper part of the stomach and connected to a segment of the small intestine, so that food bypasses the remainder of the stomach and the bowel. This severely restricts the amount of food the patient can ingest compared with before surgery, as well as significantly reducing the amount of calories absorbed from meals that are eaten.
Benefits of gastric bypass
Some of the benefits of gastric bypass surgery are described below:
- The amount of weight patients can lose after the surgery is often impressive. The weight loss leads to a reduction in the risk of obesity-associated diseases such as hypertension and heart disease. The risk of death due to obesity is also reduced after a gastric bypass operation, by nearly 40%.
- Obesity is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus. This risk is usually reduced with the amount of weight loss that can be achieved after a gastric bypass operation.
- The risk of hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol and triglycerides) is also reduced.
- Obstructive sleep apnea and disrupted sleep are other common complications that are often resolved after gastric bypass surgery.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) may be relieved after the bypass surgery.
- Lower back pain, knee damage and joint pain associated with excess body weight may also improve.
- The risk of venous thromboembolic disease is reduced.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc