Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the most commonly performed operation for weight loss in the United States, according to the American Society for Bariatric Surgery.
In this procedure, the surgeon creates a small pouch at the top of the stomach to restrict food intake. Then, a Y-shaped section of the small intestine is attached to the pouch to allow food to bypass the lower stomach and the first part of the small intestine. This reduces the amount of calories and nutrients the body absorbs.
Physicians on the medical staff at Arlington Memorial Hospital often perform Roux-en-Y gastric bypass laparoscopically. With laparoscopy, the surgeon makes one or more small incisions through which slender surgical instruments are passed. This technique eliminates the need for a large incision and allows for a faster recovery.
Patients who have undergone Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery must modify their food choices because of a "dumping syndrome" often caused by the surgery. When patients eat a meal high in simple carbohydrates, which contain sugars that are rapidly absorbed by the body, they may experience an unpleasant reaction. Stomach contents move too quickly through the small intestine causing symptoms such as nausea, bloating, abdominal pain, weakness, sweating, faintness and sometimes diarrhea.
Lifelong mineral supplementation is also required for gastric bypass patients as the bypassed portion of the intestine is where the majority of calcium and iron absorption takes place.
The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass has been proven in numerous studies to result in durable weight loss and an improvement in weight-related medical illnesses, according to the American Society for Bariatric Surgery. Half of the weight loss often occurs during the first six months after surgery; weight loss usually peaks at 18 to 24 months. The obesity-related conditions that may be improved or cured with this gastric bypass procedure include type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, venous statis disease, bladder incontinence, liver disease, certain types of headaches, heartburn, sleep apnea and many other disorders.
The negatives associated with Roux-en-Y gastric bypass include a higher initial complication rate, the need to supplement vitamins and minerals for the rest of the patient's life; and the potential for malnutrition if the patient doesn't comply with their doctor's recommendations. Discuss these and other potential complications with your physician.
Sources: American Society for Bariatric Surgery, National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases