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Gastric Bypass (Roux-en-Y)

What is Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery, sometimes referred to as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, is a commonly performed bariatric weight loss surgery in the U.S. Gastric bypass is one of the most effective procedures to help lose and maintain weight.

During the procedure, bariatric surgeons make changes to your stomach and part of your small intestine to change the way they absorb and digest food. As a result, you can expect to feel fuller more quickly due to the decreased stomach size.

How is Gastric Bypass Surgery Performed?

Gastric bypass is often done laparoscopically or robotically, with small incisions in the abdomen. This surgical procedure is associated with shorter hospital stays, smaller scars, less pain and a quicker recovery at home.

The surgeon staples the upper part of the stomach, so it is separated from the bottom half to create a small stomach pouch, about the size of a golf ball or egg. This small pouch restricts the amount of food you can eat, making you feel full after eating only a small amount.

A section of the small intestine (the Roux limb) is then attached to the small stomach pouch allowing food to bypass the lower stomach, the duodenum. This bypass reduces the number of calories and nutrients the body absorbs, called malabsorption.

Who is a Candidate for Gastric Bypass Surgery?

This procedure is used to treat severe obesity. It is recommended for those unable to lose weight through non-surgical means such as diet and exercise.

Your health care provider may recommend gastric bypass if you are severely obese with a body mass index (BMI) over 40. Your BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. Your provider may also recommend it if you have a BMI between 30 and 40 and a health condition such as sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. These recommendations may change based on your insurance.

Follow the BMI calculator to find out if you’re a healthy weight.

Patients must be in good overall health and not have any medical or mental health conditions that would exclude them from undergoing surgery.

What are the Advantages?

There are several health benefits of gastric bypass surgery:

  • Effective weight loss. The average weight loss is greater than other procedures, such as sleeve gastrectomy and Lap-Band. The average person loses between 30% to 35% of total body weight over the course of two years after surgery. When these changes occur, people tend to live longer and have an improved quality of life. In addition, there is a reduced risk of obesity-related health problems.
  • No foreign objects. The procedure does not require a band, like those used in Lap-Band.
  • Relieves acid reflux and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) symptoms. Some people who have gastric bypass experience more relief from heartburn and acid reflux than those who undergo sleeve gastrectomy.

What are the Risks?

Gastric bypass is a safe weight loss surgery, but complications can still occur during and after surgery. Below are the main complications and risks of this type of procedure:

  • Longer recovery. This surgery requires a longer recovery period and may involve a longer hospital stay than other types of bariatric surgery.
  • Leaks. Leaks may develop from your stomach or small intestine.
  • Ulcers. These can occur in the GI tract but are more common in people who smoke or take NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) after surgery.
  • Vitamin deficiencies. The procedure reduces your ability to absorb calories and nutrients. As a result, you may need to take vitamin supplements.
  • Internal hernia and blockages. These may require additional surgeries.
  • Dumping syndrome. This condition can result from the rapid emptying of stomach contents into the small intestine. This is sometimes triggered when too much sugar or large amounts of food are eaten.
  • Other complications may include bleeding, blood clots and infection.

What Happens After Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Gastric bypass is a lifelong commitment that requires nutritional and lifestyle changes to help sustain weight loss.

Shortly after surgery, you slowly begin reintroducing foods into your diet, starting with a clear liquid diet. Then you’ll advance to a full liquid diet, a soft food diet and a regular diet in the weeks ahead. To avoid dumping syndrome, you will also have to avoid certain foods, such as simple sugars like honey or white sugar.

You will work with our health care team to determine what is best to eat.

Learn more about the Bariatric Surgery Journey (life pre- to post-surgery).

Our Expert Bariatric Team

Bariatric surgery needs a multidisciplinary approach to obesity care. The Banner Health weight loss team offers compassionate, comprehensive and advanced care. Our team is dedicated to providing you with the safest, most successful bariatric patient experience possible.

Surgery is only one part of that care. Equally important is the education, lifelong follow up and support our team provides. Our team partners with you to achieve your weight loss goals and improve your quality of life.

Your team will involve a surgeon or surgeons, obesity medicine doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, dietitians, behavioral health specialists, support staff, medical assistants and some specialists in cardiology, pulmonology and sleep medicine. We are all working together with you on your care.

Take the Next Step: Am I a Candidate? 

Bariatric Center of Excellence

Banner Health is accredited by the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery for its high standards of care in weight loss surgery.

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Watch our free informational video to learn about the different weight loss surgery options we offer as well as eligibility requirements and what you can expect as a patient in the program.

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