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The Science Behind Gastric Bypass Surgery: How It Works

Oct 03, 2022
The Science Behind Gastric Bypass Surgery: How It Works
Gastric bypass is a bariatric procedure to help with severe obesity. And with any surgery, you must assess the details regarding the procedure. Understand the science behind gastric bypass surgery and how it works by reading this guide.

Gastric bypass is a bariatric procedure to help with severe obesity. And with any surgery, you must assess the details regarding the procedure. Understand the science behind gastric bypass surgery and how it works by reading this guide.

How Gastric Bypass Works

Gastric bypass changes the way your body absorbs food. It’s a two-step process that involves sealing a part of your stomach off to restrict the amount of food your body can hold. Then, a surgeon sews a walnut-sized pouch to the lower intestine, and that’s where food will go. Here’s a closer look at the science behind gastric bypass surgery:

A surgeon uses a laparoscope tool to access the stomach. Then, the surgeon divides the stomach into a small upper section and a large bottom section. The upper section will become the pouch (where the food will go). It’s a small area and only holds one ounce of food. This makes the stomach smaller.

The second part of the procedure is the bypass. The surgeon connects a part of the small intestine to a tiny hole in your pouch. The food will travel from the pouch into the opening and into your small intestine. Thus, your body will absorb fewer calories.

Limiting Calorie Intake

Gastric bypass shrinks the stomach, changing the way you absorb food. Given the small space, there’s no room to eat large amounts of food. With a significant decrease in calorie intake, patients lose weight quickly. This helps severely obese people shed pounds and alleviate weight-related health problems.

What the Surgery Entails

To start the process, the doctor will use a general anesthetic to make you unconscious. This enables a peaceful sleep throughout the surgery. During the procedure, the surgeon will make four to six small incisions in your belly. The laparoscope will go through these incisions. This allows doctors to see inside your stomach during the operation.

Typically, gastric bypass takes two to four hours to complete. After the procedure, the medical team will monitor your body overnight. Patients usually go home after a day or two of monitoring.

Incision Care

Taking care of the incision lines is important after surgery. Proper care reduces the chances of infection. It also supports healthy recovery. Here are some tips for incision care:

  • Leave the incision tape on for a week after surgery (or until it falls off).
  • Wash the area with warm, soapy water. Then, pat the area dry. Don’t clean with hydrogen peroxide because it can affect healing.
  • Keep the incision lines clean and dry.

What To Expect After Surgery

The first few months after surgery, you will lose weight quickly. In fact, you can expect most of your weight loss in the first 12 months after the procedure. As time goes on, weight loss will become slower and more stagnant. During post-op life, your doctor will monitor progress and lifestyle changes.

Generally, patients enjoy rapid weight loss but may feel discouraged as it slows down. Gastric bypass is a tool to help weight loss, but it’s not a “quick fix solution.” Following diet and exercise recommendations will help maintain results.

Ideal Candidate

In contrast to other bariatric procedures, gastric bypass surgery is for people with severe obesity. A BMI of 40 or higher indicates extreme obesity. However, people with a BMI between 35 to 39.9, accompanied by serious weight-related health complications, qualify too. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, severe sleep apnea, and heart disease are a few complications.

Please note that gastric bypass surgery isn’t for everyone severely overweight. Doctors perform an extensive prescreening to see if you qualify. In addition, candidates must be willing to make permanent changes to their lifestyle. This includes nutrition monitoring pre- and post-op. If gastric bypass seems like the option for you, consult your doctor to discuss this procedure.

Typical Diet Plan

You must follow specific instructions regarding your meal plan after surgery. Every patient is different, so the transition from liquid to solid foods varies. Generally, you will follow a liquid diet for two to six weeks post-op. Then, you will eat pureed and soft foods until you can handle solids. Given that your stomach can only handle small portions of food, it’s important to eat meals with the right amount of vitamins, proteins, and minerals.

Adjusting to new eating habits is challenging. However, doctors and dietitians can help during this time. Dietitians can craft meal plans with high nutritional value in small portions.

Along with eating, hydration is critical too! Sipping water prevents dehydration and constipation. That’s why it’s important to sip water throughout the day.

At-Home Care Recommendations

Don’t hinder the recovery process by neglecting your body. This is the time to follow your diet plan and at-home care recommendations. After leaving the surgical center, here are some ways to take care of yourself:

  • Try walking every day to increase blood flow and circulation. Walk for a few minutes each day and gradually increase the amount you walk.
  • Avoid strenuous activities (jogging, weightlifting, cardio, etc.) until the doctor approves these actions.
  • Take two to four weeks off work to recover. If you have a labor-intensive job, consider three to five weeks off.
  • After showering, remember to pat the incision lines dry. Additionally, avoid baths for two weeks post-op. It’s best to stick with showers (as you don’t submerge the incision lines underwater).
  • Don’t lift anything that can strain your body. This may include a child, heavy bags, or milk containers. Ultimately, it’s best to avoid heavy objects.
  • Rest when you feel tired but remember to walk and follow meal plans.

Follow-Up Care

After surgery, your doctor will schedule follow-up appointments to assess healing and recovery. Be sure to make all appointments and be transparent about post-op life. Discuss any concerns and ask questions. Remember, follow-up care is to support your weight loss journey and to ensure the best results.

When To Seek Immediate Care

Don’t wait until a follow-up appointment to care for severe issues. If you’re short of breath or lose consciousness, call 911.

Call your doctor or seek immediate care if you have severe pain, can’t pass stool or gas, have loose stitches, or experience signs of a blood clot. Blood clot symptoms include leg redness and swelling. It also includes pain in your thigh, groin, calf, or back of the knee.

It’s important to seek help if you have signs of an infection. Sometimes, the incision lines can lead to a painful wound infection. If you experience swelling, pain, redness, or pus draining from the incision line, this may be an infection. Alert your doctor for help.

Let ALGSN Bariatrics Help

Always seek the best medical team, especially for bariatric procedures. If you’re searching for gastric bypass doctors, consider Slim Vegas Bariatric and General Surgery. With exceptional expertise and friendly staff, Slim Vegas is here for you! Happiness starts with health, and we’re here to support your weight loss journey.

The Science Behind Gastric Bypass Surgery How It Works