Gastric Bypass Surgery


Gastric bypass surgery is widely considered to be the “gold standard” when it comes to medical weight loss procedures. It is now the most common type of bariatric surgery performed in the United States, and in addition to helping patients shed unwanted pounds, gastric bypass can also help to improve chronic conditions like Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), sleep apnea, and high cholesterol.

What is Gastric Bypass Surgery?

With a gastric bypass, also known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, your surgeon uses a small portion of your stomach to create a new stomach pouch that is about the size of an egg, which is then connected directly to your small intestine.

The remaining large portion of your stomach and the duodenum is ‘bypassed’, however, the excluded stomach tissue is not removed, ensuring that essential digestive juices, enzymes and hormones continue to be produced and absorbed.

How Does Gastric Bypass Work?

Gastric bypass works by restricting the amount of food you can eat, and altering the way in which fat and calories are absorbed by your body.

The small, egg-sized stomach pouch fills up quickly when you eat, which helps you feel satisfied on a fraction of the food that you consumed prior to the procedure. As a result, you take in fewer calories, leading to a caloric deficit and subsequent weight loss.

Because a portion of the small intestine is bypassed during the procedure, your body will absorb fewer nutrients from the food you eat – this also helps to promote weight loss and long-term maintenance of a healthy body mass index (BMI).

Who Qualifies for Gastric Bypass?

Current guidelines from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery state that gastric bypass may be an option for patients who either have a BMI of 40 or greater, or have a BMI over 35 and suffer from one or more serious, obesity-related conditions such as:

  • Sleep apnea
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Hypothyroidism

In order to qualify for gastric bypass, you may need to show that your efforts to achieve and maintain a healthy BMI through lifestyle changes (diet and/or exercise) have been unsuccessful.

Pros and Cons of Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass

Gastric bypass is a major, life-changing procedure that has been shown to help obese patients shed unwanted body fat and reduce weight-related medical complications. Like all weight-loss surgeries, there are pros and cons associated with gastric bypass.

Advantages of gastric bypass include:

  • Generally, patients lose about 60 percent of their excess body weight within 18 months of the procedure*
  • The weight loss associated with gastric bypass surgery can help to reduce the risk of developing comorbid health conditions linked to obesity
  • Patients can continue to enjoy most foods by limiting portion sizes
  • The resulting metabolic changes can reduce food cravings
  • When done using robot-assisted techniques, scarring, complication rates, and post-surgical pain are minimal

Disadvantages can include:

  • Requires lifelong compliance with specific lifestyle changes (diet and exercise)
  • Patients need to be monitored for vitamin deficiencies
  • Overeating following gastric bypass surgery can lead to nausea, diarrhea, and discomfort
  • The procedure is permanent