Gastric bypass surgery is simply the knotting of your stomach to make it smaller so that you eat less, feel full sooner, and lose some weight in the process. But keep in mind, it is not a quick fix for obesity.
It’s a major surgery. It involves risks and complications. And unlike the imaginary fairy godmother magic wand, you have to put in work in the form of a strict diet and exercise regimens post surgery to get to a healthy state of being.
How Does the Surgery Work?
After you are under the effect of general anaesthesia, the surgeon parts your stomach into two sections using staples. The top segment is saved for collecting the food you eat. This pouch can be as small as a walnut and can hold around 28 grams of food.
To facilitate digestion in your restructured stomach, the surgeon connects a part of your small intestine to the pouch with a tiny hole. This way, the food you eat enters your new stomach pouch, goes through the hole and into the small intestine from where it’s digested, absorbed, and excreted.
The compact size of the pouch prohibits you from overeating. The direct connection to the jejunum/small intestine keeps your body from absorbing too many calories from the food. Over time, this results in a maintained intake of food and contributes to weight loss.
Types of Gastric Bypass Surgery
If the surgeons cut through your abdomen to perform the stomach knotting, it’s termed as the open gastric bypass. Laparoscopy is another minimally invasive way of achieving the same results.
Laparoscopy makes use of a tiny camera that’s inserted in your belly via a small cut. The surgeon can see inside your abdomen with this camera’s help. A few other equally scaled-down cuts are used to insert other instruments inside your body. The operator looks at the activity inside your abdomen on a video monitor and operates.
While both open bypass and laparoscopy are efficient methods to perform gastric surgery, the latter offers minimal pain, quicker recovery, and minimal chances of developing infections.
Risks Involved in Open and Laparoscopic Surgery
Before you have this operation, you must qualify as someone who needs it. Your BMI should be 40 or more. If your BMI is over 35, you must have a chronic ailment, diabetes or sleep apnea, for instance, to qualify for the procedure.
Gastric bypass changes your appearance and your body. It’s why doctors like to make sure you have tried other avenues, diet therapy for example, before going for this surgery. Since the operation is major, you are knocked down using general anaesthesia.
Regular complications of using anaesthesia involve allergic reactions, bleeding, clotting, breathing issues, and infections. The surgery may give rise to severe complications as well. These include injury or extensive damage to the organs during the operation, leaking of the stomach split or the junction where the stomach and intestine come together, etc. Other risks include Gastritis, stomach ulcers, scarring in the belly, bowel issues, and heartburn.
Poor recovery remains a risk factor in almost all cases of gastric bypass surgery. You may experience malnutrition, vomit every time you eat something or encounter difficulty in keeping food down in your stomach for longer.
How Does the Weight Loss Happen?
Gastric bypass doesn’t automatically cure you of obesity. Studies show patients losing about 75% of their additional weight during the initial two years after the surgery. Studies also show 85% of gastric banding patients regaining said weight within five years after their surgery.
After the procedure, your diet changes. You can’t eat much. Some food may disgust your senses. You have to put effort into controlling your mental urges to eat more. You need to train yourself to eat slowly, take small bites, chew the food thoroughly, and be painfully aware of your meal choices.
The feeling associated with eating changes as well post surgery. You feel full very quickly, don’t experience raging appetites anymore, and may even forget to eat at times.
Your body reads the levels of ghrelin hormone(created by stomach cells) to determine whether you’re hungry or not. The food entering your stomach affects the secretion of ghrelin. However, since a significant part of your stomach is closed with a staple and out of service after gastric bypass, ghrelin secretion plummets too, making your body ignore the hunger prompt at times.
In addition to watching your diet, you need to schedule about sixty minutes of exercise six days a week to stay in shape. In an obese person, there is a lot of skin over all that fat. With the reducing weight, that skin will show as well. Gymming can help you tone up and deal with these appearance issues.
Before and After Gastric Bypass Surgery
You are scheduled to get a complete body work before the operation. It involves a physical exam, blood tests, ultrasounds, nutritional counselling, emotional evaluation, and an inspection of your existing health conditions.
You have to stop smoking weeks before the actual procedure. Medicines that prevent efficient blood clotting, herbal supplements, vitamins, etc. are to be avoided lest they inhibit proper recovery.
While you can be up and walking within three days of the surgery, possible complications (gallbladder stones, vomiting, weakness, infections, etc.) may make this period of recovery as long as a few months. You must take precautions after the procedure. For instance, you may have to prefer liquids to solids, wear special stockings to prevent blood clot formation, get your pain meds without fail, etc.
The End Result of Gastric Bypass Surgery
The most weight you lose will be in the first or second year after this operation. Afterwards, you’ll gain weight as well. With preventive diet and exercise plans, you can keep reverting to your original weight and stay in shape. Additionally, losing weight will help eliminate other ailments like high BP, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, diabetes, asthma, etc. You may undergo a confidence boost as well.
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