Gastric bypass

Gastric bypass surgery

Gastric bypass surgery is a method of controlling body weight and offers a permanent solution when supported by a lifelong commitment to weight loss.

Common questions

What is gastric bypass surgery?

This is generally the most popular procedures and works by permanently reducing the size of your stomach and bypassing part of the intestines.

A small pouch of stomach is created and is joined to a bypassed segment of bowel. There are two joins, one between the stomach and the bowel, the second to join the two loops of bowel lower down. It works by limiting the amount you that can be eaten at each mealtime.

Why would I have gastric bypass surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery is often recommended for higher BMI patients and those with reflux or sweet-eating dietary patterns or a "sweet tooth".

This procedure has been widely used for 30 years or more and is seen as the ‘gold standard’ operation for obesity.

A full consultation with our bariatric surgeon is required. At your consultation he will discuss procedures with you and will advise on your suitability should you choose to go ahead with surgery.

What happens during gastric bypass surgery?

It is important that you are fully aware of the implications before committing to gastric surgery as it requires a change to the way you think about food, eating and drinking, and exercise. Losing weight before surgery will help with your recovery, increase your rate of weight loss and help with the transition to a post-operative diet. Your surgeon will advise you if there’s anything you need to do to prepare for your operation or provide advice about weight loss prior to your surgery in order to shrink your liver and reduce fat in your abdomen. 

You will also be advised to stop smoking as this will increase your risk of getting an infection after surgery, which can slow down your recovery. It can also make your surgery less effective and can lead to complications.

The bypass operation usually takes between one and three hours and is performed with keyhole surgery under general anaesthetic. This means that the surgeon makes small cuts in your tummy, rather than one large cut and is guided by a special telescope with a camera.

Using surgical staples, your surgeon with make a pouch out of the top of the stomach, separating it from the lower part. An opening in the pouch will be made and it will be connected to a section of the small intestine. The food you eat will bypass the lower part of your old stomach and the first part of your bowel. Your surgeon will close the incisions with stitches or small metal clips.

What should I expect after gastric bypass surgery?

The procedure requires a two night stay in hospital and it may take you a week or two to recover from gastric surgery however, this can vary from person to person, so it is important to follow your surgeon's advice.

The amount of weight loss will vary from patient to patient, however, generally this procedure results in approximate 70-90% loss of excess weight over a period of time and potential reversal of diabetes and hypertension.

You may be asked to wear compression stockings to help prevent blood clots forming in the veins in your legs.

You will have access to a dietician for nutritional advice, including diet sheets if you wish and you will have face to face follow up appointments for several months afterwards to monitor your progress.

In the two week post-operative period you will be permitted to only take liquids, before easing yourself into more solid foods. Whilst you are off you will be advised to avoid sleeping or sitting for long periods, and to push yourself to be generally mobile, as this will help you avoid blood clots forming. You should also avoid lifting heavy objects and you should not drive.

As with all weight loss surgery you will need to change your eating patterns and your diet, cutting out certain foods that may cause you problems in your changed gastro-intestinal situation. Eating smaller amounts and choosing carefully which foods you eat should help to reduce any nausea as well as helping with weight loss.

Your dietician may suggest dietary supplements to ensure you get the nutrients you need for energy and good health. You will need to eat smaller portions and will also have to chew your food thoroughly or you may experience discomfort.

You will need to take vitamins and mineral supplements for the rest of your life and as with most weight loss procedures, adapt what and how you eat.

In terms of risks, there are general risks with all surgical and weight loss procedures, including wound infection, bleeding and normal risks of anaesthetic

Contact Benenden Hospital

It’s easy to make an appointment; you can ask your GP or give us a call on 01580 230661.