Gastric bypass surgery: The
ultimate solution to weight loss?
Gastric bypass surgery is
considered for individuals who are morbidly obese, usually with a BMI of 40 or
more, or less than 40 with significant complications related to the obesity. In
these cases, gastric bypass surgery may be recommended when individuals have
tried other methods and have failed. Two different types of procedures are
commonly available including vertical banded gastroplasty and gastric bypass.
Another but less common type of operation is called gastric banding. All of
these operations facilitate the restriction of calories by reducing the size of
the stomach, limiting the amount of food that can be consumed at one-time. The
gastric bypass surgery also causes interference in the digestive process (food
bypasses part of the small intestine) and reduces caloric and nutrient
The risks associated with
gastric bypass surgery are similar to those of vertical banded gastroplasty.
Approximately 30% of bypass patients however, also develop nutritional
deficiencies because many nutrients are normally absorbed in the upper part of
Gastric bypass surgery is
most effective when patients receive dietary, exercise and behavioral
instructions. These additional psychosocial interventions are always recommended
with all of the most successful weight loss and weight maintenance programs.
This type of weight loss surgery leads to substantial reductions in weight,
usually anywhere from 80 to 150 pounds, depending upon the starting weight, in
the first year. Some weight may be regained during the next two to five years.
Usually, vertical banded gastroplasty results in weight loss that is less than
what may be expected from gastric bypass surgery. Most of the complications of
obesity improve: blood glucose, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels fall; blood
pressure is lowered; sleep apnea is illuminated; and arthritic pain is
lessened. One of the large advantages of this type of surgery is that it
increases the chances that morbidly obese patients will lose enough weight to
increase their life expectancy, by avoiding serious health-related complications
related to obesity. Gastric bypass surgery is highly specialized and should be
performed only by skilled, experienced surgeons in hospitals with proven records
for safety and efficacy. Under these conditions, the risk of dying from gastric
bypass surgery is less than 1%. Complications such as nutritional deficiencies
and vomiting occur in about 10% of the patients.
From The Johns Hopkins Medical Guide to Health After 50
Additional Information and
Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate
(Health and Geriatric Psychologist)
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