Bariatric Surgery: Gastric Bypass and Banding


Gastric bypass is a surgical procedure used for weight loss in situations in which obesity threatens health, or even life. It is considered when all other reasonable, medically supervised, weight-loss methods have failed. Gastric bypass changes how the stomach and small intestine handle food. The stomach is smaller, and feels full very quickly with a small amount of food. “Bypass” means that part of the stomach and intestine, both with roles in food absorption, will no longer come into contact with food; fewer calories are absorbed. All forms of weight-loss surgery (medically termed bariatric surgery) are major procedures with potentially serious risks and side effects. For many surgeons, gastric bypass is the procedure of choice because it has fewer complications than other bariatric procedures. For success, however, it is still necessary to makes changes in eating habits, incorporate exercise and make lifestyle changes. Bariatric surgery is expensive and insurance coverage is not always available.

Why It’s Done and Who It’s For

In addition to helping an individual lose excess weight, gastric bypass reduces the risk of potentionally life-threatening, weight-related health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It is also done for people who have been able to lose a large amount of weight but have not been able to keep the weight off even though diet is emphasized and exercise is included. Bypass is considered for people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater, which is the definition of extreme obesity, or a BMI of 35 to 39.9, which is the definition of obesity, with one or more of the life-threatening weight-related diseases as described earlier. In some cases, a BMI of 30 to 34 with very serious weight-related health problems will qualify for surgery.

Not everyone who is severly overweight is a candidate for weight-loss surgery. There are certain medical guidelines which must be met, in a rigorous, extensive presurgical evaluation. A candidate must be willing to make lifestyle changes and commit to a long-term follow-up plan of diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and medical conditions. Quitting smoking before, and not restarting after the surgery is essential. Continue reading for Prevention and Treatment Information . . .

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