By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Gastric bypass surgery is a form of weight loss surgery that is used to treat morbidly obese individuals.
The procedure is used as a last resort to reduce the risk of obesity-related complications or death in patients who have failed to find other weight lost methods effective. Examples of other approaches that may be tried prior to surgery include dieting, exercise and medication. As very obese individuals are at an increased risk of complications such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, surgical intervention is eventually considered.
Obesity that has become potentially life threatening is defined as:
- A body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
- A BMI of 35 or higher accompanied by comorbidity that could be improved as a result of weight loss, such as hypertension or diabetes.
However, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that bariatric surgery should only be offered to those suffering form obesity if the following points also apply:
- The patient has tried other weight loss approaches such as dieting and exercise but has not lost enough weight to benefit their health for at least 6 months.
- The patients is committed to a long-term weight loss plan once the surgery has been performed.
- The patient is fit enough to be administered the anesthetic required for the procedure.
Among children, a gastric bypass should only be considered if the child’s health is at exceptional risk. This includes children with a BMI of 50 or above or a BMI of at least 40 accompanied by comborbidity that would improve with weight loss.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Jul 11, 2014