Gastric bypass is one of several surgical treatments for morbid obesity. Most people who have a gastric bypass achieve their desired weight quickly and efficiently. In addition to weight loss, other health benefits occur following gastric bypass surgery, such as a steady decline in symptoms of type-2 diabetes, migraines, sleep apnea, hypertension, and high cholesterol. Also, scientists have noted a correlation between gastric bypass and a decreased risk of heart attack and stroke.
What is a gastric bypass?
Gastric bypass surgery involves removal of certain parts of your intestines and reduction of stomach size. This is done by squeezing a portion of your stomach and securing it into a small pouch. This smaller pocket becomes your primary stomach, and it is attached to the middle of your small intestine. All food is shunted into your smaller stomach with minimal digestion, and through a much shorter intestinal route than before.
The gastric bypass is effective for losing weight for several reasons.
- Since your new stomach is much smaller, you are satisfied with less food. Also, as overeating will cause severe bloating and nausea, you will eventually learn how to recognize feelings of satiety before these symptoms occur.
- Gastric bypass inhibits your ability to digest food. As a result, you absorb fewer nutrients, or calories. That is why it is crucial to supplement with vitamins and minerals for life as part of your maintenance plan post-gastric bypass.
Gastric bypass risks
Because the digestive system is a complex intertwining arrangement of intestinal tubes and stomach linings, it makes sense that complications can arise following the removal of these vital organs.
Before making the decision to undertake gastric bypass surgery, it’s important to understand the provisions and risks involved.
- Gastric bypass is meant as a last resort for morbidly obese individuals with a body-mass index of over 40 who have failed at all earlier attempts to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.
- Gastric bypass surgery will improve your looks, but it is officially recommended as a means of preventing life-threating illnesses caused by obesity, such as heart disease, stroke, or diabetes.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs often following gastric bypass, as many surgeons fail to warn their patients about the necessity to supplement with vitamin B12 injections, sublingual drops, or other kinds of non-dietary over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12 supplements. This happens because removal of the ileum of the small intestine inhibits your ability to absorb vitamin B12 from food. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include debilitating fatigue, memory problems, “brain fog” confusion, muscular pain, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, and difficulty swallowing.
- A common side effect of gastric bypass is “gastric dumping syndrome,” which occurs when food goes through your now-shortened digestive system too quickly, and causes symptoms like bloating, stomach cramps, diarrhea, profuse sweating, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
- Very often, complications that occur during the gastric bypass procedure require a return visit to the operating table. This can happen when the incision opens or becomes infected.
- Gastric bypass is not a magic cure-all. You will still be required to exercise and eat a healthy low-fat diet in order to keep from gaining the weight back or suffering from vitamin deficiency.
- Rapid weight loss causes loose skin flaps. Depending on the amount of weight lost, gastric bypass patients may notice excessively large fleshy pouches on your arms, stomach, legs, and chest. These can only be removed with plastic surgery.
About a third of the people who have gastric bypass develop vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia. Until recently, these people had to take vitamin B12 shots. Now there is a painless way for you to get the vitamin B12 you need if you have had gastric bypass. The B12 Patch sends vitamin B12 painlessly through your skin and into your bloodstream.