What Happens to Your Body After Gastric Bypass Surgery?

In the initial days and weeks after a gastric bypass surgery, it is common to experience fatigue, nausea, vomiting, difficulty sleeping, post-surgical pain, weakness, lightheadedness, loss of appetite, flatulence and gas pain, loose stools, and emotional ups and downs. Immediately after gastric bypass surgery, you may only consume liquids and not solid foods as your stomach and intestines start to heal. Then, you will follow a special diet plan that will gradually transition from liquid foods to pureed foods. After that, you can eat soft foods and then move on to firmer foods as your body can tolerate them.

At first, you will feel full very quickly, often after just a few bites of solid food. This is because the new stomach pouch or gastric sheath will only contain a small amount of food shortly after surgery. Even when the pouch or cover is larger, it may not hold more than about 1 cup (240 milliliters) of chewed food. A normal stomach can hold up to 4 cups (1 liter) of chewed food.

After gastric bypass surgery, your stomach will feel full more quickly than when it was its original size. In addition, bypassing part of the small intestine will cause fewer calories to be absorbed. Gastric bypass is done when diet and exercise have not been successful or when you have serious health problems due to your weight. Formerly it was the most common weight-loss surgery, but in recent years it has been replaced by a gastric cuff.

In general, gastric bypass is a safe surgical procedure, with a risk of death of 1 to 2 percent; however, about 20 percent of patients have major or minor postoperative complications. Like other bariatric surgery operations, gastric bypass is recommended for people with clinically severe obesity. While considered a safe procedure, comparable to many other common surgeries, gastric bypass is a major operation that will change the digestive system permanently. In gastric bypass surgery, the surgeon uses surgical staples to split the stomach and create a small upper pouch the size of a golf ball.

In most people who undergo gastric bypass, the diet moves from liquids to pureed foods and then to a regular diet for six weeks. As with any major surgery, gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries pose potential health risks both in the short and long term. Follow-up studies of gastric bypass surgery have demonstrated significant and consistent weight loss decades later. Gastric bypass, also known as Roux-en-WY Y-gastric bypass, is a type of weight-loss surgery that involves creating a small pouch from the stomach and connecting the newly created pouch directly to the small intestine.

Factors taken into consideration when deciding whether to perform open or laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery include body mass index (BMI), the person's body shape, and previous surgeries. Laparoscopic gastric bypass was introduced nearly 30 years ago and has since become the standard treatment for most people. After a gastric bypass procedure, ingested food will enter this small stomach pouch and then directly into the small intestine, thus avoiding passing through most of the stomach and the first section of the small intestine. Gastric bypass is usually only done after you have attempted to lose weight by improving diet and exercise habits.

Genevieve Szulimowski
Genevieve Szulimowski

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