Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass

There are multiple options when it comes to weight loss surgery.  The Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGB) is widely considered the gold standard to weight loss surgery and is sometimes simply refer to as gastric bypass.  Before we explore life after gastric bypass surgery, let’s be sure to understand what RYGB is all about.

So what do they do in the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass surgery?

Roux-en-Y Gastric BypassRYGB is a type of weight-loss surgery that reduces the size of your stomach to a small pouch – about the size of an egg.  The surgeon will make a new pouch for you by stapling off part of the top portion of your stomach.  The top portion of your stomach is supposed to not stretch as much and also contains the receptors that tell your brain you are full.  The pouch reduces the amount of food you can take in at meals.  The surgeon then attaches this pouch directly to the small intestine, bypassing most of the rest of the stomach and the upper part of the small intestine.  This reduces the amount of fat and calories you absorb from the foods you are able to eat for even more weight loss.

RYGB can be done as an open surgery, with a large cut (incision) on your abdomen to reach your stomach.  Or it can be done as a laparoscopic RYGB, using a lighted tube with a tiny camera, called a laparoscope.  This tool is pushed into your abdomen through several small cuts.  Your surgeon may prefer to do a laparoscopic procedure instead of open surgery because it generally means you don’t stay in the hospital as long and recover more quickly.  You also may have less pain, smaller scars, and less risk of getting a hernia or infection.  Many people are able to have this procedure done laparoscopically.  Thankfully, my surgeon would only do the laparoscopic procedure!

Why have this done?  Can’t you just loose weight the old fashion way — you know exercise!?

Weight Loss SurgeryObesity lowers quality of life.  This can result in poor overall health, and contribute to a higher risk for depression.  Your surgeon may suggest a RYGB surgery if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more or if you have a BMI of 35 and also suffer from serious obesity-related health problems such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, or severe arthritis.

Doctors generally recommend the weight-loss surgery only if you are severely obese.  That means about 100 pounds overweight for men and 80 pounds for women.  They also usually don’t recommend it unless you haven’t been able to lose a large amount of weight and keep it off through diet, exercise, and changes in lifestyle.

Some people may only need to loose 10, 20 or 30 pounds.  A major procedure such as this would not make sense.  However, when you have 100 or more pounds to lose, you need a tool to help you with your weight loss.  The weight loss surgery gives you that tool.  Don’t get me wrong, even with the surgery you STILL have to work at loosing weight and keeping it off.  You will be dieting and exercising too!

What are the risk with the surgery?

As with all surgeries gastric bypass has risk as well, some of them include:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Infection
  • Potentially life-threatening blood clots in the legs that can travel to the heart and lungs
  • Respiratory problems
  • Leaks from internal incision sites
  • Death

What life-changing events can occur after gastric bypass surgery?

  • Addiction swapping, replacing your food addiction with another addiction (like drugs, shopping, etc…)
  • Divorce
  • Malnutrition, especially if you don’t take your prescribed vitamins and minerals daily for the rest of your life
  • Iron and calcium deficiencies
  • Gastric “dumping,” which can cause nausea, rapid heartbeat, flushing, fainting, and other unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhea after eating
  • Narrowing of the sites where intestines are joined (stricture)
  • Staple-line failure, where the pouch was created
  • Dangerous internal hernias in which the intestine can be trapped and blocked
  • Need for additional operations because of problems such as a stretched pouch or separated stitches
  • Failure to lose enough weight if you snack on high-calorie foods and don’t exercise

After gastric bypass surgery, now what do I do?

It’s important to stop and change your unhealthy habits right away.  For most of us this includes:

  • Addressing your addictive personalities and relationship issues
  • Exercising daily
  • Drinking water daily (and lots of it)
  • Taking daily vitamin supplements (for the rest of your life)
  • Eating a healthy diet with 6 small meals per day
  • Sleeping 8 hours a night to allow your body to heal itself (we do put it through a lot during the day)
  • Enjoy your new body that allows you to do even more than before

Additional Resources

The BIG Book on the Gastric BypassThe BIG Book on the Gastric Bypass: Everything You Need To Know To Lose Weight and Live Well with the Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery (The BIG books on Weight Loss Surgery) (Volume 3)

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