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What is gastric bypass?

Gastric Banding

Gastric bypass is a surgery that can help adults and some adolescents who are very obese (morbidly obese) lose weight. It involves attaching the stomach directly to the middle of the small intestine. This reduces the amount of calories and nutrients that are absorbed by the body. 

Gastric bypass surgery usually includes a stomach stapling procedure. Stomach stapling reduces the size of your stomach and the amount of food you can eat at one time. 

Gastric bypass has serious risks but the benefits can be significant. Benefits include long-term weight-loss and resolution of serious diseases associated with obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. 

Gastric bypass is only one part of a complete treatment plan. Plans also include a lifelong commitment to healthy dietary and exercise habits, vitamin supplementation, and regular follow-up care. You may have less invasive treatment options with less risk of complications. Ask your doctor about all your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before having gastric bypass. 

Types of gastric bypass

Gastric bypass is a malabsorptive procedure. This means that it helps you lose weight by changing the normal process of digestion. Specific gastric bypass procedures include:

  • Biliopancreatic diversion with a duodenal switch (BPD-DS, duodenal switch) involves removing part of the stomach and using staples to create a smaller tube-shaped stomach (vertical sleeve gastrectomy). In another surgery, the stomach is attached to the middle of the small intestine. This bypasses a large part of the small intestine and reducing the amount of calories and nutrients absorbed into the body. 
  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) involves stapling the stomach to create a small pouch. The smaller stomach is attached directly to the middle of the small intestine. This allows food to bypass much of the stomach and the first section of the small intestine. It limits the amount of food that you can eat and reduces the amount of calories and nutrients that are absorbed into the body.
Medical Reviewers: Daphne E. Hemmings, MD, MPH Last Review Date: Jul 12, 2013

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Medical References

Bariatric Surgery. The Journal of the American Medical Association. http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/303/6/576.full.pdf. Accessed May 5, 2013.
Bariatric Surgery - Following Doctor's Orders Results In 35% More Weight Loss. Medical News Today. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/111681.php. Accessed May 5, 2013.
Bariatric Surgery for Severe Obesity. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases (NIDDK). http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/gastric.htm. Accessed May 5, 2013.
Benefits of Bariatric Surgery. American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery. http://www.asmbs.org/Newsite07/patients/benefits.htm. Accessed May 5, 2013.
Pile, JC. Evaluating postoperative fever: A focused approach. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2006;73 (Suppl 1):S62. http://ccjm.org/content/73/Suppl_1/S62.full.pdf. Accessed May 5, 2013
Poirier P, et al. Bariatric Surgery and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011; 123: 1683-1701.
Weight Loss Surgery. DukeHealth.org. http://www.dukehealth.org/services/weight_loss_surgery/care_guides/bariatric_surgery_diet_manual/the_recommended_diet_following_bariatric_surgery/#stage4. Accessed May 5, 2013.

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