Pros and Cons of Gastric Bypass Surgery

May 7th 2016

Gastric bypass surgery is the most common bariatric procedure in the United States and has been the subject of exhaustive research. Personal health and lifestyle factors should also play a role in your decision of whether to pursue gastric bypass surgery. Speak with your doctor to determine the best option.

Substantial Weight Loss

Although exact weight loss depends on the type of gastric bypass procedure, as well as diet and lifestyle changes, patients sometimes lose half of their weight or more within two years of the procedure. Average weight loss in the first year following surgery is 41 to 61 percent, and permanent weight loss over the long term averages 67 percent, as stated by Bariatric Surgery Source.

Improvement of Certain Health Conditions

The majority of patients experience improvement or complete recovery when it comes to obesity-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes, obstruction sleep apnea and hyperlipidemia. Patients may also experience a decrease in back and extremity pain and arthritis symptoms. Other conditions that gastric bypass surgery may alleviate include bladder incontinence, heartburn, high blood pressure, heart disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Due to the inhibited absorption of nutrients, patients may experience deficiencies or other nutrition-related problems if they do not closely adhere to a special diet. A lack of vitamin B12 and iron may lead to anemia, and a calcium deficiency can cause osteoporosis and other bone problems down the road. Doctors often recommend that patients take vitamin supplements for the remainder of their lives to avoid nutritional deficiencies.

Dumping Syndrome and Other Side Effects

Approximately 80 percent of patients experience dumping syndrome following the procedure, a complication that occurs due to the rapid movement of the food from the stomach to the intestines, according to Bariatric Surgery Source. Symptoms include weakness, sweating, faintness and nausea after eating. Patients may also experience constipation or diarrhea, and some have difficulty swallowing when eating too quickly.

Cost

Although your insurance company may pay for gastric bypass surgery, the expense can be substantial if coverage is not provided. Depending on the region of the country and the surgeon, the procedure can cost $15,000 to more than $35,000.

Conclusion

Gastric bypass surgery is a long-term weight loss option that involves the surgical manipulation of the stomach and small intestine to reduce absorption of calories and nutrients. Among widely tested bariatric procedures, gastric bypass is one of the most effective options available. The surgery can produce rapid results and alleviate certain conditions, but prospective patients must also consider the high cost and potential complications of the procedure.

Sources

Bariatric-Surgery-Source.com "Gastric bypass surgery: Complete patient guide" http://www.bariatric-surgery-source.com/laparoscopic-gastric-bypass-surgery.html#Could_Open
MedicineNet.com "Risks of gastric bypass surgery" http://www.medicinenet.com/gastric_bypass_surgery/page2.htm
MayoClinic.org "Gastric bypass surgery" http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/bariatric-surgery/basics/results/prc-20019138

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