Pros and cons of having a gastric bypass

October 5, 2015

As obesity rates skyrocket, more people are flocking to surgeons to have their stomachs "shrunk." So-called bariatric surgeries block off a small part of the stomach and connect this new, smaller stomach to the small intestine. The result: people can't eat as much. Here are the pros and cons of getting the surgery.

Pros and cons of having a gastric bypass

Pros of having gastric bypass surgery

  • There's no denying that gastric bypass surgeries cause significant weight loss.
  • Gastric bypass surgeries, which essentially detour food around most of the stomach, cause significant short-term weight loss for most patients.
  • Has the ability to ease or even reverse chronic conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.
  • After surgery, patients can eat only small amounts of food at a time because the new, smaller stomach pouch holds less than 25 grams (one ounce) of food. Eventually it expands enough to accommodate 110 to 175 grams (four to six ounces) of food, still a far cry from the one kilogram (32 ounces) it could hold before.

Cons to having gastric bypass surgery

  • The results won't last forever unless patients do their part. Since the stomach is largely muscle, patients can train it to accommodate more food. Unless you change your habits for life, you're likely to regain at least some of the lost weight — and possibly see diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure return.
  • patients are required to take multivitamin supplements to prevent nutritional deficiencies that could lead to conditions like anemia and bone loss.
  • Studies show a substantial weight loss in the months after surgery — up to 62 percent of excess body weight — but it's followed by a gradual regain. In one study conducted in Sweden, the average loss two years after gastric bypass surgery was 23 percent of the patient's original weight; 10 years after, it was only 16 percent.
  • The procedures don't come without side effects, such as gas, pain and diarrhea, and can pose significant risks. In the Swedish study, 13 percent of patients had postoperative complications such as bleeding, blood clots, infection or lung-related problems. Mortality rates from the surgeries range from 0.5 to two percent.

Gastric bypass surgery is a drastic measure, and it produces dramatic results — sometimes. So while it can certainly be a successful procedure it is a serious decision to be made between yourself, your loved ones and your doctor. Know that there are potential problems and that it works best if you also change your lifestyle.

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