Deciding if Gastric Bypass Surgery Is Right for You

May 7th 2016

Although these considerations may affect your decision of whether or not to undergo gastric bypass surgery, you must also consider personal health and lifestyle factors. Consult your doctor to decide which type of bariatric surgery is the best option for you.

Benefits of Gastric Bypass

Anywhere from 80 to 100 percent of gastric bypass patients experience an improvement in or elimination of health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, asthma and gastroesophageal reflux disease, according to Bariatric Surgery Source. Patients may also notice an improvement in heartburn, back pain, arthritis, bladder incontinence and venous stasis disease. More than 80 percent of patients experience an overall improvement in quality of life.

Risks of Gastric Bypass

Patients are at risk of band erosion, which occurs when the band that compartmentalizes the stomach disintegrates. Stomach contents may leak into the abdomen, potentially causing severe acid damage, and nutritional deficiencies may occur due to reduced nutrient absorption. Stretching of the stomach and breakdown of the staple lines can also occur, reversing the effectiveness of the procedure.

Post-Surgery Complications

Many patients experience dumping syndrome after the procedure, which occurs when food passes too quickly through the digestive system. Patients may experience nausea, sweating, weakness and diarrhea. They may also become weak after eating sweets. Rapid weight loss may lead to gallstones, and a decreased uptake of iron and B12 can lead to anemia. Lack of calcium may lead to osteoporosis and other bone diseases. Patients must pursue lifelong use of certain medications and foods to minimize the risk of complications.

Other Bariatric Surgery Options

Lap band surgery is a reversible alternative that generally has fewer serious complications than gastric bypass. However, minor complications are more common, and weight loss varies widely. Duodenal switch produces even more weight loss than gastric bypass, but risk of nutritional deficiencies and other serious complications is higher. Gastric sleeve surgery produces fewer complications than and similar weight loss to gastric bypass. However, it is not as effective at solving obesity-related diseases and health issues.


Gastric bypass surgery is the most commonly performed weight loss surgery in the United States, accounting for roughly 80 percent of bariatric procedures, according to WebMD. The surgery involves manipulating the stomach so that consumed food bypasses the first portion of the small intestine and travels directly to the lower portion, cutting down nutrient absorption. Patients generally pursue this route when traditional diet and exercise options have failed to produce desired weight loss or when excessive weight is causing medical complications. Read through benefits, risks and other considerations before deciding if gastric bypass surgery is right for you.

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