What is a Gastric Bypass?
A Gastric Bypass or Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass is an operation that splits the stomach into two, one part being a small ‘pouch’ which is then connected to the small intestines at a lower point, therefore, creating a new smaller stomach while the remaining portion stays in place and remains healthy due to the existing blood supply. As the connection of the small intestine is at a lower point, this causes food digestion to happen further along the digestive track, therefore absorbing fewer calories. this By leaving the existing portion of the stomach intact provides the patient with the option of reversal or modification depending on the patient’s needs and desires.
When performing this surgery there are two ways it can be done, either an open operation or laparoscopically. The laparoscopic method or keyhole method uses five small insitions and the use of camera and fine surgical tools rather than incorporating large cuts, therefore reducing the post-operative pain and recovery speed drastically.
Am I eligible for a Gastric Bypass?
As the gastric bypass is such a major weight loss procedure it is not recommended for everyone. Patients lose an average of around 65% of their excess body weight within 12 months post-operation thus this procedure wouldn’t be recommended for those who wish to lose a small percentage of body weight or sculpt a certain area.
Patients whose efforts have a been unsuccessful in losing excess body weight through diet and exercise or who have BMI over 40 or a BMI over 35 and suffer from serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, severe sleep apnea, high blood pressure or any other related conditions may be eligible for this bariatric operation.
Advantages of a Gastric Bypass
- Patients will be limited to portion size of around 25% of what they once were, restricting patients from excessive over eating leaving them feeling fuller, quicker.
- Operations involve a low complication rate compared to other bariatric techniques.
- A higher short-term weight loss as compared to other bariatric surgeries such as the sleeve gastrectomy.
- Provides lasting long term results where most patients maintain more than 50% of their excess weight loss for over 15-20 years after the procedure.
- Is a reversible surgical procedure, therefore depending on the patient’s needs and issues can be revert as the remaining stomach is not removed.
- Related health conditions associated with obesity such as sleep apnea, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes etc are improved or resolved in months following the procedure.
Risks and Complications of Gastric Bypass
As with any surgical procedure there are always possible complications and risks involved, these include:
- As the procedure involves stapling of the stomach and small intestine there is always a chance of leakage or staple separation.
- The chance of stomach conditions such as heartburn, ulcers or gastritis is increased.
- A range of post-surgical vitamins must be taken for life, if not further long-term vitamin/mineral deficiencies may arise.
Dumping Syndrome is often experienced by patients who have undergone bariatric surgery. Symptoms include vomiting, weakness, abdominal discomfort, nausea, sweating, faintness and often diarrhoea as a result of eating food high in sugar content or in excessive amounts.
Cost of the Gastric Bypass
Like most surgery there is never one definite cost for a specific procedure, this is due to the different elements involved that make up the final cost. Depending on your Private Health Insurance it could cost anywhere between $4,000 – $6,000 after rebates, on the other hand, if you do not have insurance it could cost anywhere between $16,000 – $18,000. Some of these ranging factors include that will influence these numbers are:
- Consultation fees – Usually between $100-$200 that are usually eligible for a medicare rebate.
- Surgeons fees – Usually one of the most varying factors. This is commonly correlated with the surgeons’ experience and ability.
- Surgical assistants fees
- Anaesthetists fees
- Hospital/Facility fees
- Type of Surgery
- Post Operative Medication/Vitamins
It is important to not to take shortcuts with surgery, these are life changing operations that if not done correctly or properly by a competent and experienced surgeon could lead to some serious medical issues later down the track. It is not advised to travel to third world countries in order to find the cheapest deal possible as often you are left with a second rate surgery in a second rate theatre with no post-operative support later on. While saying that it is important to be able to tell the difference between a highly experienced surgeon who charges a bit more and a second rate surgeon who charges the same price.
After the Gastric Bypass
After the first few weeks following the surgery, a full liquid diet is prescribed before slowly progressing to purees and other foods that can easily be passed by the stomach. It is important in this time to drink lots of water and fluids as dehydration is common in patients postoperative. Patients will find immediately that they will get full very quickly, even after drinking fluids.
After around 6 weeks and as recommended by your doctor, a progression to solid foods may be introduced into the diet. Patients can expect to lose weight at an average rate of around 5-7 kilos per month and will continue until around the 6 months mark where weight loss begins to slow. At the two-year mark, patients will tend to loose around 70% to 80% of excess body weight before stabilizing, it is past this point where patients tend to regain some of the weight they have lost if they fail to follow a dietary plan or exercise regularly.
After this excessive weight loss patients may find that excess skin is left sagging and protruding, this is common in not only bariatric patients but anyone who experiences large amounts of weight loss. Unfortunately, this problem isn’t easily solved with exercise and healthy eating, but rather through different plastic surgery operations classified under the “Body Lift”.