FAQs – Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass

Answers to your most commonly asked questions about gastric bypass surgery.

If you need more information, please contact us.

What is gastric bypass surgery?

Gastric bypass is a surgical method used to help people with morbid obesity lose weight and reverse other health problems associated with being overweight, such as high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass creates a small pouch in the top of the stomach to which the small intestine is connected. With a smaller stomach, the patient feels full sooner and is less likely to overeat. The bypass is performed as an “open” procedure or with a minimally invasive technique using laparoscopes, depending upon what is best for each patient.

Can anyone who is overweight have gastric bypass surgery?

The surgery is not a cosmetic procedure, but rather, a course of last resort for people who are at least 100 pounds over their ideal weight and have a body mass index (BMI) of more than 40. Patients with a slightly lower BMI may be considered for the procedure if they have other obesity-related problems such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease or sleep apnea. Gastric bypass is also generally reserved for patients who have been unable to lose weight through weight reduction programs and exercise.

This procedure used to be more risky, right? What is it like now?

Traditional gastric bypass procedures involved a major incision, stretching from the chest cavity to the navel. The incision was so significant that recovery time was a painful, lengthy process for those going under the knife.

The newer version of the surgery, called laparoscopic bypass, has decreased the risks. The gastric bypass procedure involves sealing off a large portion of your stomach. In fact, after the procedure, most of your stomach is no longer used.

A small pouch at the top of your stomach is created. A bypass is created in part of your small intestine to reduce calorie absorption. The procedure is now performed with small surgical instruments and involves a succession of five to six small incisions less than an inch in length each.

Is gastric bypass covered by insurance?

Gastric bypass surgery is not a cosmetic procedure and is performed only when medically necessary. Many insurance companies cover all or part of the costs involved for the laparoscopic and/or open version of the surgery.

As every insurance plan is different, it is your responsibility to call your insurance company and ask about your plan’s coverage and pre-certification or authorization requirements.

Gastric bypass surgery reduces stomach capacity quite significantly. Does the stomach ever stretch back to a larger size?

Surgery reduces the stomach capacity by about 90 percent. Immediately after surgery, the pouch can hold approximately two ounces. Gradually, the stomach pouch does stretch somewhat and the capacity increases, but not to its original size.

How long does recovery from gastric bypass take?

Patients can expect to be out of bed by evening of the same day of the surgery, with a total hospitalization stay of about three to four days. The surgical recovery period averages between three and five weeks.

What happens if I cheat on the recommended post-surgical diet?

Usually, cheating cures itself, as the consequences can be quite uncomfortable for the patient. Eating high-calorie foods can bring on “dumping syndrome,” which results in cold sweats, a feeling of faintness, intestinal cramps and diarrhea. It is such an unpleasant experience that most people do not keep on “cheating.”

What is dumping syndrome?

When large amounts of high-calorie foods (especially those containing sugar) pass quickly from the stomach pouch into the intestine, fluid rushes into the small intestine to dilute the high concentration of sugar. The patient may feel faint, break out in a cold sweat, and have intestinal cramps followed by diarrhea. Fortunately, “dumping syndrome” can be averted simply by the patient avoiding high intakes of sweets.

Can I reverse my gastric bypass?

Gastric bypass surgery can be reversed, but turnaround operations are usually more problematic than the original gastric bypass. The only patients that would be considered for reversal are those who experience long-term problems. It is significant to note that any person who has their gastric bypass reversed will probably recover any weight loss seen after the first surgery.

Can I eat whatever I want after the gastric bypass?

Fats and sweets, when consumed above advised levels, can lead to abdominal cramping, sweating and lack of energy. Diet changes will be discussed to help you enjoy life after a gastric bypass surgery.

How does gastric bypass affect which medications a patient is able to take?

Patients should avoid aspirin or aspirin-containing medications and anti-inflammatory drugs. These can irritate the intestinal tract’s inner lining and sometimes cause ulcers. Alcohol and tobacco products should be avoided, as well, for the same reason.

What will exercise be like after gastric bypass?

It is best to begin walking as soon as you can after the gastric bypass operation. You should also get some exercise on a daily basis. Exercise will lead to a healthy body and you will lose more weight. Walking is a good exercise that significantly speeds up weight loss. We recommended that you take a nice long walk every day after you have fully recovered from your gastric bypass.

Is pregnancy possible following gastric bypass surgery?

Many obese women of childbearing age do not have menstrual periods, a condition known as amenorrhea, and are unable to become pregnant. After the surgery and subsequent weight loss, regular menstrual cycles typically resume. Barring other fertility-related problems, these women are able to become pregnant. However, we do not recommend attempting pregnancy until 18 months after the surgery. Before then, the rapid weight loss and nutritional deficiencies can harm a developing fetus.

When the waiting period is over, these women can go on to have uneventful pregnancies and healthy babies with proper prenatal care and monitoring by their obstetrician and bariatric team. Despite the reduced size of her stomach, the mother-to-be can still intake sufficient calories for both the fetus and herself.

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