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gastric bypass surgery

What Are the Criteria for Gastric Bypass Surgery

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Millions of patients have seen the benefits of bariatric surgery as a proven method of durable weight loss. When dieting and exercise fail, patients choosing weight loss surgery experience drastic improvement in quality of life and a reduction in weight related health conditions. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), the benefits of bariatric surgery, along with minimally invasive surgical techniques and quick recovery from weight loss surgery have resulted in a surge in the number of bariatric procedures performed annually.

Gastric bypass surgery is one of the early bariatric procedures and was first performed in the 1960s. It was developed based on weight loss observed in patients who underwent partial stomach removed for ulcers. Though the gastric bypass procedure has changed with advancements in medical technology, it remains one of the most commonly performed operations for weight loss in the United States. It is often preferred by bariatric surgeons as a weight loss option due to the low risk of complications for the patient compared to other weight loss surgeries.

The Gastric Bypass Procedure

There are two components to the gastric bypass procedure. First, the bariatric surgeon creates a small pouch in the top portion of the stomach. This pouch is about the size of an egg, or about 30 milliliters (one fluid ounce) in volume.

Next, the small intestine is divided, and the bottom portion of the small intestine is connected to the new stomach, which is significantly smaller than the formerly football-sized stomach. The remainder of the stomach is “bypassed” along with the first port of the small intestine. Food enters the stomach pouch and goes directly to the lower part of the small intestine, limiting the amount of calories and fat the body can absorb.

Gastric bypass surgery is known as both a restrictive and a malabsorptive procedure because it reduces stomach capacity due to the small size of the pouch while also restricting nutrient and calorie absorption by the small intestine. Additionally, gastric bypass surgery reduces production of ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone. Reduced output of this hormone helps to reduce feelings of hunger.

Gastric Bypass Surgery Before and After

Patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery achieve a range of results, but on average, gastric bypass results in the loss of about 60 to 80 percent of the patient’s excess body fat. While the majority of weight loss occurs in the first six months after surgery, additional loss typically continues at a slower rate for the next 18 to 24 months. Most patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery are able to maintain weight loss of at least 50 percent of their excess weight for the long-term.

In addition to weight loss, other benefits of gastric bypass include:

  • Improve or resolve a number of weight-related health conditions, including: type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and heart disease.
  • Increased mobility and reduced joint pain.
  • Increased fertility and healthy pregnancy for women who struggled with infertility due to their weight.

Am I a Candidate for Gastric Bypass Surgery?

When diet and exercise have failed to help you lose weight, or if you have serious health problems as a result of your weight, your doctor may recommend bariatric surgery, such as the gastric bypass procedure as an option for you.

The typical candidate for gastric bypass surgery has a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or has a BMI of 35 to 39.9 as well as serious weight-related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea.

The average gastric bypass surgery cost ranges from $17,000 to $26,000, according to ASMBS, but coverage may be available through your health insurance company, but you might have to jump through a few hoops before you are able to obtain approval for surgery from your insurance provider.

Many times, the insurance company’s gastric bypass surgery requirements include a full medical work-up, pre-authorization request and documents showing physician supervised weight loss attempts prior to surgery. Your insurance company may also require a psychological evaluation and or counseling as well as a letter of medical necessity from your physician.

It’s important to remember that all types of weight loss surgery, including gastric bypass, are not a magic fix, but rather tools to aid patients in weight loss. Any weight loss procedure requires that the patient make permanent healthy changes to their diet and get regular exercise to help ensure the long-term success of the bariatric procedure.

There is no perfect bariatric procedure, nor is there a one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss, but an honest discussion with your weight loss doctor in Dallas can help you decide on the procedure that may be best suited for you. If you’re ready to reclaim your health, contact us today to schedule a consultation with a bariatric surgeon.