Why get gastric bypass surgery?
Doctors might suggest bariatric surgery, or weight-loss surgery, for people with a Body Mass Index of 35 or 40 or greater. The Body Mass Index is calculated from weight and height and is a way to estimate body fat.
Dr. Hamilton Le, a bariatric surgeon at OU Physicians, is one of several doctors in the Oklahoma City metro area who performs weight-loss surgeries. photo by Jaclyn Cosgrove, The Oklahoman
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Apr 27What’s it like to have a gastric bypass surgery?
A BMI of 40 or more likely means you are 100 pounds or more over your healthy weight and thus might be a good candidate for weight-loss surgery.
Once you and your doctor decide that weight-loss surgery is a good option for you, one of the next decisions will be what kind of weight-loss surgery you should have.
Gastric bypass surgery can help you lose weight and thus alleviate certain health problems related to obesity. Common health problems that people who are obese suffer from include diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and problems with joints.
It’s important to discuss your eating habits with your doctor. This will help determine which surgery might work best for you.
What happens when you get gastric bypass surgery?
During this surgery, you will be put under anesthesia, or put to sleep, and have a breathing tube inserted.
Gastric bypass can be done in two ways — by open surgery or by using a tiny camera called a laparoscope. If your surgeon is performing open surgery, he or she will make a large surgical cut to open up your belly.
If you’re getting laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon will make small incisions, about an inch long, on your abdomen, and then place instruments inside of your abdomen, along with a camera, that allow him or her to maneuver and have a better visual.
Next, the medical team will take a small portion of your stomach and divide it off from the rest of the stomach, disconnecting it from the rest of your stomach. Next, they will take a piece of small intestine and reattach it to that pouch. This restricts you from eating as much.
Advantages to a laparoscopic surgery include less pain, a shorter hospital stay and small scars.
Before you have weight-loss surgery, most insurance companies will require you to have about six months of documented medical weight loss, working with your family doctor to try to lose weight.
Also, you will see a dietitian to discuss what your post-surgery diet will be along with eating habits and portion control.
Does it hurt?
Right after surgery, you likely will have pain at the incision site. If the doctor had to convert from a laparoscopic surgery to an open surgery because of complications, you will have a longer incision and thus might have more pain.
How long does it take to recover?
The hospital stay for laparoscopic surgery is generally one to two days. You probably won’t need to do long-term physical therapy.
Within a month, most people feel back to normal, in terms of pain related to incisions.
After surgery, most patients can go about their daily living, dressing themselves, preparing meals and showering.
It’s recommended that you not lift anything that weighs more than 10 pounds or 15 pounds, primarily because you could develop a hernia at the incision site.
What are the risk factors?
There’s a general risk involved with any major abdominal operation related to the anesthesia.
Additionally, there are general risks associated with any digestive surgery, including a low risk of bleeding, risk of infection at the wound site and internally, a low risk of injuring the intestines during the procedure
There’s also a 1 to 3 percent chance of what’s called “leak,” where the stapled area could leak its internal contents. Patients experiencing leaks might have a fever, an elevated heart rate or have increased pain that’s noticeable even after taking pain medication.
During surgery, the medical staff will use carbon dioxide gas to blow up your abdomen, and for people who are obese, this increases your risk of deep vein thrombosis, which is essentially blood clots in your legs. These blood clots can break off and go to your lungs, which can be fatal. To combat this from happening, hospital staff will place squeezers on your legs to stimulate the blood flow. Also, staff might give you a chemical called chemoprophylaxis that helps you not form clots.
Also, you can combat the risk of blood clots by walking around before your surgery and also staying as active as you can after surgery.
Long-term risks and complications of weight-loss surgery vary depending on the type of surgery and can include bowel obstruction, dumping syndrome, causing diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, gallstones, hernias, low blood sugar, malnutrition, stomach perforation, ulcers, vomiting and in rare cases, death.
Do you need follow-ups?
Your surgeon typically will see you about one week to two weeks after your surgery and will check on your wounds, making sure you’re healing properly.
Most bariatric centers see you often to monitor your long-term outcome. For instance, your surgeon might see you post-surgery at two weeks, three months, six months, nine months, a year, 18 months and then annually for up to five years.
Gastric bypass surgery is a weight-loss tool. Along with it, it is best to also maintain a healthy diet with exercise.
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