Everything You Need to Know About Gastric Bypass Surgery
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A healthy weight is important, but it isn’t always easy to maintain. In some cases, no matter how hard you try you can’t lose weight. And carrying that extra weight puts you and your body in danger.
If your health is at risk from being overweight, you need to take action – being overweight places so much stress on the body that it can lead to deadly heart attacks and strokes. Fortunately, there’s a medical procedure that can help: gastric bypass surgery.
What is Gastric Bypass Surgery?
Gastric bypass surgery is a weight loss surgery intended for those who struggle to control their weight with diet and lifestyle changes.
According to WebMD¹, gastric bypass surgery shrinks the size of your stomach, helping reduce the amount you can eat and keeping your digestive system from absorbing as much food as it would normally. There are different types of gastric bypass surgery, but WebMD² reports that the two most common are:
- Roux-en-Y gastric bypass: The most common surgery option, this form of gastric bypass staples part of the stomach together so only a small portion, or pouch, remains. A Y-shaped section of the small intestine is attached to that pouch to help the body absorb fewer calories.
- Extensive gastric bypass: A more complicated surgery, this type of gastric bypass removes part of the stomach and leaves only a small portion intact.
Ultimately, the goal of any type of gastric bypass surgery is to shrink the stomach and redirect parts of the digestive system so the body can’t absorb as much as it naturally does when we eat.
How Does Gastric Bypass Work?
After you’ve undergone gastric bypass surgery, the effects will be immediate. Because your stomach is much smaller in size, you’ll feel full very quickly when you eat. The new portion of your stomach will only be able to hold a few ounces of food or liquid at a time.
Right after surgery, you’ll be required to stick to a liquid-based diet. This can last for up to three months. After your stomach and intestines heal completely, you’ll be able to eat a little more and handle solid foods once again.
One of the biggest impacts gastric bypass has is on overeating. Many people who choose or require gastric bypass are obese and have a history of overeating. However, after gastric bypass, overeating will result in unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and incontinence. It’s these unpleasant symptoms that help keep eating habits in check.
Is Gastric Bypass Safe?
You’ve likely heard horror stories about deaths that occurred from having gastric bypass surgery. But these stories are false. According to WebMD³, only about one out of every 50 patients who have gastric bypass surgery will die.
The main reason death can occur from this procedure is infection. A study published in Obesity Surgery⁴ found that infection can be reduced thanks to innovations in gastric bypass – today, a laparoscopic version of gastric bypass surgery is performed where only small incisions are made in the abdomen instead of a large cut.
Another complication of gastric bypass surgery is blood clots. Blood clots most commonly occur in people who limit their movements after surgery because of the pain from the healing process. Usually, doctors watch closely for any redness, swelling, or pain in the limbs, which could be indicative of a blood clot.
To minimize the risk of side effects and complications, it’s crucial that you only consider having gastric bypass surgery performed by a licensed surgeon with many years of experience working in the field of bariatrics.
How Much Does Gastric Bypass Cost?
Paying for gastric bypass surgery isn't cheap. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases⁴ reports that the average cost of bariatric surgery runs between $15,000 and $25,000. This is a lot, but remember that being overweight or obese comes with high costs too – over your lifetime, being obese can cost you $92,235 in health and medical costs according to The Fiscal Times⁵.
Fortunately, some health insurance policies will cover gastric bypass surgery and its related costs. If you’ve tried and failed to lose weight for years on your own, you’re likely a candidate for health insurance covered surgery. You’ll just need to prove that your weight is having an impact on your health. Your insurance company will also check to see if you’re suffering from any weight-related medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart problems, or sleep apnea.
Like anything, it's always a good idea to be aware of the latest research. We recommend comparing at least 3 or 4 options before making a final decision. Doing a search online is typically the quickest, most thorough way to discover all the pros and cons you need to keep in mind.