Gastric bypass surgery is suited for individuals who are 100 pounds or more over their ideal body weight and have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40, or a BMI greater than 35 coupled with certain obesity-related medical conditions. If your BMI is greater than 35, you may have an obesity-related medical condition you are unaware of, so bariatric surgery may still be an option.
Most gastric bypass surgery candidates have been unsuccessful losing weight in the past through diet and exercise. They may also suffer from significant and serious health problems such as hypertension, sleep apnea, or diabetes associated with their excess weight. Gastric bypass surgery is therefore designed to decrease the many life-threatening risk factors associated with excess weight while simultaneously increasing the ability to enjoy daily living.
During gastric bypass surgery, the stomach is divided into a large pouch and a much smaller pouch about the size of a golf ball. The small pouch is stapled shut and divided from the large pouch. The small stapled pouch is then rerouted to a lower part of the small intestine, bypassing a portion of the upper small intestine.
After gastric bypass surgery, the smaller pouch becomes the new “stomach” of the body. The small pouch can only hold about one cup of food at a time, drastically limiting the amount of food an individual can eat in one sitting. Furthermore, the rerouting of the small pouch into the lower small intestine allows for the malabsorption of calories, spurring on more weight loss since fewer calories are absorbed.
The surgery will change your eating habits and how your body digests food. Your appetite will change, and your body will be less able to tolerate foods high in fat or sugar, as these foods may cause you physical discomfort such as nausea, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.