If you’re like most residents of the Suffolk area, you have a very busy lifestyle that places many demands on your time and energy. Between work, family and social obligations, it seems we are all simply run off our feet to the point of exhaustion many days. It’s even worse if you are carrying excess weight. It sometimes feels impossible to get everything done, especially if simply climbing a flight of stairs takes up so much more energy than it does for others. If that sounds familiar, you may want to consider gastric bypass surgery as a way to get your weight down to a healthy level and to reclaim your life.

Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric bypass surgery (known clinically as the Roux-en-Y procedure) is performed laparoscopically in all but a few cases, leaving you with only 6 small scars on your mid-section. The surgeon divides the top portion of the stomach, creating a small pouch, which gets connected lower down to the small intestine. Malabsorption is achieved by bypassing a large portion of the stomach and some of the small intestine. As the name suggests, malabsorption can be described as the gastrointestinal tract’s diminished ability to absorb food through digestion.

The smaller stomach pouch will dramatically limit how much you can eat, while the surgical changes made to your digestive system will recalibrate certain hormones that affect you sense of hunger and satiety which means you will not be hungry as often and will feel full or satisfied more quickly.

Gastric bypass surgery has been performed for over 40 years and has a proven track record for safely and effectively treating obesity and its related health conditions.

Following gastric bypass surgery, you can anticipate losing 50 to 60% of your excess body weight within the first two years. Weight loss from gastric bypass tends to be more rapid than from gastric banding. As the weight disappears, you should also begin to feel healthier and you will have a reduced risk of developing serious health issues like diabetes, hypertension and certain kinds of cancer. Since there is no hardware involved in gastric bypass surgery, there is no risk of mechanical breakage or erosion as there is with the gastric band.

Approximately half of all gastric bypass patients experience something called dumping syndrome after eating sweets. Dumping syndrome manifests as abdominal cramping, palpitations and diarrhea. Although the symptoms are very unpleasant, we have found dumping syndrome to be a very good deterrent against eating high calorie, sugary foods.

Risks and Possible Side Effects

There is risk associated with any major surgery including laparoscopic bariatric surgery. You will have the opportunity to discuss all the risks and benefits of each of the bariatric surgeries we offer during your consultation visit with your surgeon.

While malabsorption is desirable for its effectiveness in reducing the calories absorbed by your body, it can also cause nutritional deficiencies because your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals is compromised. Roughly 30% of gastric bypass patients experience some form of nutritional deficiency. You will be able to minimize that risk by taking daily vitamin supplements.

Patients who have undergone gastric bypass surgery are also at risk of experiencing more serious side effects such as internal bleeding or leakage. Such complications are rare and may require further hospitalization or additional surgeries.

Some patients experience nausea or vomiting after the surgery. This is most often caused by eating too much or too quickly. In time, it is also possible that patients lose muscle mass as their bodies attempt to retain fat by burning muscle for energy. This can be mitigated by eating a diet high in protein and by exercising regularly.

Other possible complications or side effects include gallstones, ulcers, and transient hair loss.

After the Surgery

Despite being performed laparoscopically, gastric bypass is a complex surgery that will require you to remain in the hospital for one or two nights. Most patients recover within two weeks, gradually increasing their activity level as they lose weight and become accustomed to their new digestive process.

Diet: At first, you will only be able to drink liquids following the surgery. Then, you will progress to a diet of soft or pureed foods for approximately 4 weeks before you can begin to introduce solid foods to your diet. We will also provide you with specific dietary instructions to help you as you lose the weight and keep it off. You will need to take daily vitamin and mineral supplements for the rest of your life to avoid nutritional deficiencies.

Exercise: Physical activity will be an important component of your new healthier lifestyle. We will encourage you to walk as much as possible immediately following the surgery to help prevent the formation of blood clots in your legs. As your weight drops and your energy levels increase, you should engage in a more strenuous exercise regime. You will probably be pleasantly surprised at how great you will feel as your body becomes lighter and more fit.

Follow-Up Visits: As Suffolk County’s leading center for bariatric surgery, we take pride in providing our patients with long-term care and support that goes far beyond the surgery. Through important follow-up visits at our office, we will monitor your progress, ensure your digestive system has adjusted to the surgery and is functioning properly and provide you with tips and advice to keep you on track for optimal success.

Contact the Suffolk County office of New York Bariatric Group today to find out how gastric bypass surgery can help you.