What to Expect During Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric bypass is a type of weight loss surgery that changes the way food is digested. It is one of the most common types of weight loss surgery, helping to reduce the size of your stomach and limiting how much you eat, helping with malabsorption through the bypass process, and improving the way people think about food and weight loss in general. Some things will happen before and during your procedure as detailed below.

Types of Gastric Bypass

There are two main types of gastric bypass surgery: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and extensive gastric bypass. The Roux-en-Y procedure is the most common type that is performed in the United States. This process involves a smaller pouch of the stomach being made through a stapling procedure, or through banding. This reduces how much a person can eat. Afterward, there is a bypass created for malabsorption purposes. With the extensive gastric bypass, the lower part of the stomach is removed entirely, though there is a higher risk for deficiencies of nutrition with this surgery.

Before the Procedure

There are first some things to know before you have your gastric bypass procedure. Make sure your surgeon described the process and what to expect after surgery. You will sign a consent form for the surgery, and will be required to complete a series of tests to make sure you have no conditions that could increase the potential risks or complications. You will not be able to eat up to eight hours before the procedure, and must inform your doctor of any medications you take. Having a history of blood thinning or blood clotting disorders must also be made aware to the surgeon before surgery. It is likely you were asked to begin dieting and exercising before having your surgery. A sedative is given before you get the actual anesthesia for surgery, to help relax you.

During the Procedure

Gastric bypass is done with general anesthesia, where you are completely asleep. You have a catheter inserted into your bladder, and the anesthesiologist continues monitoring your breathing, blood oxygen levels, heart rate and blood pressure throughout the entire procedure. The procedure may be done laparoscopically or through an open procedure. An open process is one long incision while a laparoscopic procedure uses a series of smaller incisions. The surgeon then completes the process through stapling a smaller pouch of the stomach, creating the Y part of the bypass, and putting in a drain in the incision site to remove excess fluid. Bandages are applied, and once you are in the post-op room, you are slowly woken from anesthesia.

You can expect to remain in the hospital for about 2-3 days while you recover, with your surgeon and nursing team watching you carefully. After this point, you are sent home with specific instructions for the recovery period.

Potential Risks and Complications

There are some risks and complications to be aware of that can occur during and after your surgery. With this type of surgery, you risk problems with digestive issues, wound infections, bleeding, and ulcers. There are also serious risks though the chance is exceedingly rare. They include stroke, severe infection or bleeding, leaking from connections with intestines, blood clot, or heart attack.

The gastric bypass procedure is the most common among all bariatric procedures though you should always be aware of the risks. Following your surgeon’s instructions before and after the surgery improves your recovery, speeds up your weight loss, and prevents the majority of possible complications. Always consult your doctor if you notice anything unusual or worrisome after the surgery.