Obesity is associated with the leading causes of death worldwide. It doesn’t just lower a person’s quality of life; it increases vulnerability to severe diseases, nutrient deficiencies and poor mental health.
Some bariatric patients opt for weight loss procedures like gastric bypass to get rid of the extra weight. However, like any surgery, gastric bypass isn’t risk-free. The duration of the operation is another concern for many patients.
In this guide, we’ll shed light on how long gastric bypass surgery usually takes. We’ll also address other points of concern to increase awareness regarding the benefits and risks before undergoing the procedure.
What Is Gastric Bypass Surgery and Who Is It For?
The gastric bypass procedure is a weight loss surgery that offers a tool for losing excess weight. The process is mostly recommended to individuals with a BMI of 35-39.9 with obesity-related comorbidities or a BMI of 40 and over.
Another less common version of this surgery, called a mini gastric bypass procedure, combines the benefits of gastric bypass and gastric sleeve operations. It reduces operating times, may provide increased weight loss and decreases complications. However, not all patients can opt for this surgery for various reasons.
How Long Does the Gastric Bypass Procedure Take?
Typically, a gastric bypass procedure should take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours, depending on each particular case. The hospital stay is generally 2-3 days for the initial recovery period.
What to Expect During and After Surgery
Before signing up for surgery, it’s important for you to be fully aware of what’s going to happen during and after a gastric bypass procedure.
During a laparoscopic gastric bypass operation, the surgeon makes 5-6 small incisions in your abdomen and inserts a video scope, in addition to other tools.
Then, the top part of the stomach is stapled in order to separate it from the bottom portion, resulting in a “small stomach pouch." After that, the midsection of the small intestine is attached to the stomach pouch, allowing the food to bypass the bottom portion of the stomach and first section of the small intestine.
Within the first 6 months after gastric bypass surgery, you typically see rapid weight loss. The first month will consist of small portions of soft foods and fluids. Gradually, solid foods will be added back into the diet. Here’s how a gastric bypass surgery helps shed off the extra weight:
- Hunger suppression
- Changes to gut hormones that make you feel full faster
- Reduces nutrient absorption capabilities
- Restricted caloric intake
Possible Risks and Complications
No surgical procedure is 100% risk-free. Some complications are shared among all operations, while others are specifically related to gastric bypass.
Here are some of the complications that gastric bypass patients may experience after a gastric bypass procedure:
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
- Skin sagging
- Dumping syndrome
- Bloody stool
- Blood clots
- Reactions to anesthesia
- Low blood sugar
Some of these risks are short-term, while others are chronic. Severe complications should be dealt with by seeking immediate medical attention.
Changing Your Lifestyle
After bariatric surgery, you’ll be required to make changes to your lifestyle in order to adjust to your new body. The smaller food portions will increase weight loss.
However, this may result in certain deficiencies of vitamins and/or minerals. Many bariatric patients are recommended chewable multivitamins initially following surgery in order to prevent common deficiencies.
Protein supplements are also consumed to reach daily protein goals when it is difficult to consume food sources of protein.
What Is the Success Rate for Weight Loss Surgery?
According to statistical data, close to 90% of bariatric patients lose 50% of excess body weight and successfully keep it off in the long run.
These numbers are pretty promising, considering that such rapid weight loss is almost impossible to achieve without a bariatric procedure.
As for long-term results, many patients have been able to maintain loss of excess weight for as long as 15 years after the surgery.
Does Gastric Bypass Shorten Your Life?
For most bariatric patients, gastric bypass surgery actually increases life expectancy. Weight loss surgery has been shown to lower a person’s risk of death from any cause by over 40%.
Can Your Stomach Go Back to Normal After a Gastric Bypass?
Your stomach can expand in order to accommodate food. When the stomach expands to a certain extent, the brain will signal that you are full.
When you feel the pressure of being full, even if you only took a few bites, stop eating. If you continue eating, your stomach can stretch temporarily. If you are overeating on a regular basis, even when your brain is signaling you to stop, your fullness and hunger senses can become skewed.
If you continue through the overeating cycle after bariatric surgery, it can lead to a stretched stomach. Some may experience weight regain and decreased weight loss. In that case, a gastric bypass revision might be recommended.
How Much Does Gastric Bypass Surgery Cost?
The cost of gastric bypass surgery can be range from $15,000 all the way up to $35,000. However, typically insurance will cover most bariatric surgery procedures.
Can I Restart Weight Loss After Gastric Bypass?
If you want to start losing weight again after your gastric bypass procedure, you can follow a pouch reset diet to get back on track. This includes food consumption similar to the diet in the initial months following surgery.
While you can do this diet on your own, it is highly recommended to seek medical guidance from a qualified healthcare professional, such as a Registered Dietitian.
To recap, the duration of a gastric bypass procedure is definitely not short. However, with a duration range of 1.5-3 hours, it’s not that long, either.
Gastric Bypass surgery is only a tool for weight loss. You are accountable for maintaining lifestyle change.
The benefits far outweigh the risks, especially if you’re dealing with obesity-related conditions that are already affecting your health.
**This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.