Gastric bypass surgery for weight loss

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Gastric bypass surgery for weight loss


Weight-loss, or bariatric, surgery helps you lose weight and lowers your risk of medical problems associated with obesity. Three common types of weight-loss surgery are Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch and Lap-Band adjustable gastric banding. Of these, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is generally considered the most effective weight-loss surgery and is the most common procedure performed in the United States.

In the Roux-en-Y procedure, the surgeon creates a small pouch at the top of the stomach. The pouch is the only part of the stomach that receives food. This greatly limits the amount that you can comfortably eat and drink at one time. The small intestine is then cut a short distance below the main stomach and connected to the new pouch. Food and liquid flow directly from the pouch into this part of the intestine, bypassing most of the stomach. The stomach, however, continues to make digestive juices to help break down food. So the portion of the intestines still attached to the stomach is reattached farther down. This allows the digestive juices to flow to the small intestine. Notice that the food travels through a portion of the small intestine before most of the digestive juices are added, which limits nutrient absorption. Weight loss is achieved by restricting the amount of food that the stomach can hold and by reducing the amount of calories that are absorbed.

The biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch procedure involves removing about 80 percent of the stomach. The valve that releases food to the small intestine is left, along with the first part of the small intestine, called the duodenum. The surgery bypasses the majority of the intestine by connecting the end portion of the intestine to the duodenum near the stomach. Because most of the small intestine is bypassed, the amount of calories and nutrients absorbed is reduced, which, together with the smaller stomach, leads to weight loss.

In the Lap-Band adjustable gastric banding procedure, a band containing an inflatable balloon is placed around the upper part of the stomach and fixed in place. This creates a small stomach pouch with a very small opening to the larger part of the stomach. A small port creating an opening is placed under the skin. A tube leads from the port to the band. By injecting or removing fluid through this port, the balloon can be inflated or deflated to adjust the size of the opening and the stomach pouch. Gastric banding restricts the amount of food that your stomach can hold, yet doesn't reduce the absorption of calories and nutrients.

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Last Updated: 2009-10-02
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