Gastric Bypass

Gastric bypass surgery is being used more and more often as Americans continue to gain weight.

In 2002, 63,000 weight-loss operations were performed in the United States, according to The American Society for Bariatric Surgery.

The number of weight loss surgeries will continue to go up as more and more people become dangerously obese, and as more health insurance companies add gastric bypass surgery to their benefits.

Are you qualified for gastric bypass?

Gastric bypass surgery can have great benefits, but it also can have complications and risks. For that reason, the North American Association for the Study of Obesity advises that this weight loss surgery should only be considered if:

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is 40 or higher (extreme obesity)
  • Your BMI is 35 to 39.0 (obesity) and you have a serious obesity-related health problem such as diabetes or high blood pressure

Some insurance policies now cover gastric bypass surgery, but there will usually be strict pre-treatment requirements. Prospective patients may be required to attend nutritional and psychological counseling for six-months prior to approval of the operation, and they will be asked to lose up to 8% of their current body weight prior to the gastric bypass surgery.

These requirement help to assure the surgeons and the insurance companies that the procedure will be successful. Most insurance will only cover one weight loss surgery in a patient’s lifetime.

Gastric bypass surgery is not for everyone.

If you are considering this procedure for your weight problem, you should do very careful research before committing to it.

Most reputable doctors will ask you to live on a lowered calorie diet for at least six months before gastric bypass surgery, and your insurance company may require extensive nutritional and psychological counseling before your surgery, which they may not pay for.

Your surgeon will also discuss any possible medical or emotional issues that may get in the way of complete recovery. This surgery is known to have a fairly high rate or complications, and some of them are life threatening. Find out everything you can about this procedure before you decide.

  • The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery

The Roux-en-Y procedure is the most common form of gastric bypass surgery, and it is often the only form of the procedure that is covered by insurance. The surgery helps you lose weight because the new small stomach pouch created in the surgery will hold less food, so you eat less at each meal.

You will also notice that your body can not easily tolerate foods that you previously ate, such as foods high in sugars and fats. Since these are the foods that help many of us gain our excess pounds, you’ll naturally lose weight when you find these foods physically uncomfortable to eat. This is called “the dumping syndrome,” and can be quite painful if these foods are eaten.

You will have a smaller stomach pouch, and part of your digestive system will be bypassed after the gastric bypass procedure,, which reduces the amount of calories your body can absorb. This also affects the absorption of other nutrients, so you will be encouraged to continue with nutritional counseling.

The reduced stomach pouch size, change in eating habits, and reduced absorption allow people to successfully lose weight and keep it off long-term.

Choosing a surgical center with a high success rate and plenty of experience is important. For this reason, most insurance companies will only cover this gastric bypass surgery if it is performed at one of the clinics designated as a “Center of Excellence.” You can find one of these clinics at

  • LAP-BAND® Adjustable Gastric Banding System

The LAP-BAND® system is less expensive than the Roux-en-Y described above, and the recovery times are lower. The procedure is also less invasive and has fewer reported complications.

The official name of the procedure is “laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding procedure” but it is often called the LAP-BAND® system after the inflatable silicon band that divides the stomach. The adjustable band creates a very small stomach pouch at the top of the stomach, with an adjustable opening to the rest of the stomach below. The diameter of the band is usually about two inches, but the surgeon can adjust its diameter by pumping saline into it from a reservoir implanted under the patient’s skin.

The LAP-BAND® system does not reroute the upper intestine, so it does not interfere with the digestive process. Weight loss occurs solely because the size of the stomach is restricted. Patients do not experience the “dumping syndrome” that is common for Roux-en-Y patients.

Although weight loss is slower with the gastric banding procedure, after 3 to 5 years, both gastric banding and gastric bypass patients show comparable weight loss, according to recent studies. The slower initial weight loss may be the reason why many U.S. surgeons prefer to offer the Roux-en-Y operation for their obese patients. Surgeons in Europe and Australia appear to show a preference for the less invasive gastric banding surgery, because it is usually safer.

The gastric banding procedure is less invasive than gastric bypass, and there are fewer reported complications and deaths from this type of surgery. However, complications do occasionally occur, and a second operation is sometimes needed. A recent study that looked at the records of 300 gastric banding patients found a 5% complication rate, while other studies have found the rate of complications to be higher. Some patients will need a second operation due to band slippage or because the stomach pouch becomes dilated.

As with all patients who undergo rapid weight loss, gall stones are common, and long-term nutritional and behavioral counseling is needed for the best outcomes. The pros and cons of gastric bypass vs gastric banding are discussed here.

  • Mini Gastric Bypass

The mini gastric bypass procedure, also called the “Loop Gastric Bypass,” takes less time in the operating room than the more “traditional” Roux-en-Y procedure, and may have been designed to be used by less experienced surgeons.

Most insurance companies consider the mini gastric bypass to be “experimental” and won’t cover it because of its safety record and the higher number of complications that have been observed. For a full discussion of the mini gastric bypass system, and why it is somewhat controversial, click here.

As more research is done, more surgical and non-surgical options become available to cure obesity. If you’re considering this type of treatment, be sure to become as knowledgeable as you can be – many people who have had gastric bypass surgery say their experiences would have been much less traumatic if they had educated themselves more thoroughly ahead of time.

8 thoughts on “Gastric Bypass

    1. Hi Felisa. I don’t know anyone who fits your description, but perhaps another reader will post a comment and get you pointed in the right direction. Your doctor might also be able to connect you with someone, or you may find a support forum online. I know it can really help to talk with someone who really knows what you’re going through, to guide you along the way and offer support.

    2. I had the gastric bypass and have fibromyalgia I know it’s not the same but very similar and I was told that the surgery would help and it never did I still have all my pain as well as my other symptoms and now I have even more difficulties it’s been 4yrs since I had the surgery and I wish to get it reverse but from what I hear it’s more dangerous to do so and not too many doctors will take that risk I wish I never got the surgery I did my homework before having it done and I never knew all this if I had known I would never had it done all I can say is research it a lot before making that decision I wish you luck Gina

  1. i really need to talk to someone about being able to get this surgery done.. im having alot of problems that id like to discuss in private regarding my living conditions and affordability as well as lack of family support..

    1. Julie, any gastric bypass surgeon should be able to refer you to someone who can give you the help you need. In fact, many surgeons (and insurance companies) consider this type of counseling to be a requirement before going ahead with the procedure. I suggest that you call your local surgeon or clinic and tell them what you need.

  2. I had the procedure done about three years ago and I’ve lost about 90 pounds since. I stuck to a pretty strict diet for the first year and gradually slipped back to my main regimen. I had it done at the bariatric surgery center in my hometown and the doctors told me about ways to tweak the band if I wanted to start a different nutritional diet. Overall, I think it was a great success. I’m not as winded anymore with basic exercise, which is very good for me.

  3. Waiting to Die
    Lesley Blanche Sims

    Waiting to Die……

    Waking up in the recovery room, I wondered, am I in heaven? Hell?

    Is this a halfway house while God tally’s up my scorecard? I did not have a game plan.
    I was 44 years old. divorced, no job and had just given away all my crap.

    Growing up with my brother and sister, we were raised in a saddle and “old school”. Yes Mam and no Sir, were just as natural as huh and yeah are today.

    Respect was our foundation. We went to church, but as we grew up and our lives got busy, we wandered further and further away from God.

    Looking back now, I realize that I gave our mom hell. Our family was one, that if someone chose to tussle with got us all..My brother is a cowboy to the truest definition. His heart is as big as his temper. My sister is our baby, our relationship has been difficult at times.

    My children are adopted..Lexi Cheyenne and Jeremy Ray…We adopted our son when he was three and our daughter when she was four. For many seemed that we had the “Christmas card family”

    In 1995, I had a horseback accident where I broke my back. While our lives were going on around us…I gained weight. In April 2004, I had a Rouy N Y Gastric By Pass. During this surgery, my small intestine was perforated, and my vagas nerve was severed, something that was not detected until after I was discharged and sent home later that week.

    While I was at home with my kids, I went into septic shock. That was the day I began to die. My kids found me wandering around the front porch, disoriented, trying to use the remote as a phone and called their dad. My husband rushed me to the hospital where the MRI detected a MASS the size of a football in my abdomen. Emergency surgery was performed and my surgeon informed my husband to call my family, as I wasn’t expected to live through the night.

    I remember moments during that time of seeing my mother and my brother at the end of my bed. I can remember hearing that ventilator;……..
    I hate the sound of that machine.

    Because of the infection, my surgeon had to leave my abdomen open with a vac- pac in my abdominal cavity;
    I remember it looked like a black hole.

    I guess at some point I started pulling my IV’s, and they had to restrain me. I didn’t like that. I didn’t like not having any control. Of feeling so helpless. I could hear my family talking, but I couldn’t talk, I could hear the things they were saying. I could hear the Dr’s talking, the nurses..why weren’t they talking to me? I heard them saying I wasn’t going to make it…I felt I was screaming, “ I aint going nowhere !”

    If I thought that once they were able to take me off of life support, I would be all better..I was going to be in for a rude awakening. I find myself second guessing things in my life …I believe in fate, destiny and karma. But I have wondered about mine. I thought I had a good marriage. I truly believe we did for many years. What happened with my health and the person I became, I am trying to understand that we both just got lost living in the same house. I get it now.

    As a mother, who knows? I wanted to be a good mom. I love my kids. I always told them that God just had them tucked away for a while until their dad and I could come and get them. I admire them for their beliefs and each quality they have made their own in a world that sometimes isn’t very pretty.

    My days following the septic shock, were dark. I was sick, vomiting, running fevers, totally miserable. I stopped going to the kid’s sports, school events, I stopped being a mom, I had no interest in being a wife. All I was doing was taking up space..The kids and their dad were going on with their lives, doing things..They were living…I wanted to die. For quite a while I had thoughts, serious thoughts of doing just that. Basically just get it over with. I had no interest in doing anything. To take a shower became a task
    Because of the constant vomiting, in September 0f 2004, I had to have my gallbladder removed. Once in there, the Surgeon discovered another mass behind my spleen which had to be removed. Due to the amount of scar tissue the spleen could not be saved and my spleen had to be taken out as well.

    My stomach road map was beginning to take shape. The Dr appointment’s and procedures were ridiculous. I could have easily justified a personal assistant to just help me keep up with my medical appointments. This was my life, and I didn’t want any part of it.

    Maybe it was the way we raised, but crying is a sign of weakness. If you get hurt, you suck it up and move on. As a teenager, I would tend to be the one that would run her mouth or take up for a friend that I felt had been wronged and get into fights frequently..My kids?, I taught them to stand up for what you believe in and you fight for what you think is right. I would like to think that had I known that I was living my last year as a wife and mother to my kids, maybe I would have done a few things differently?

    The first part of 2005, my appendix had to come this point, it was just another surgery. More scar tissue. Another recovery. I started having trouble finding surgeons that would operate on me. Hell, I don’t blame them. I was a mess! While researching the Rouy N Y, I ran across a specialist that handles complications in New York. Not thinking that I would ever hear anything, I emailed him. A couple weeks later, Dr. Elliott Goodman called me. What a cool English guy!

    I sent him my records and with the help of an incredibly generous friend, I made plans to head to New York City! My surgery was scheduled for March 2006. Just to have met Dr. Goodman and to now call him my friend, was worth the trip. But he wasn’t able to help me, once he opened me up he said that it looked like someone had taken bottles of super glue and poured them inside. He took down what he could and closed me back up. By the time I made it back to Oklahoma City, I had M,R.S.A and was admitted to Mercy Hospital for what would become a life altering surgery for me and what would become of my family. I was told I had 5 years left to live.

    During this surgery, the decision was made to “take down” the Rouy N Y completely. This surgery was hard on me. Mentally and physically. I was tired. I couldn’t figure out why God was keeping me around for. My kids were doing their own thing. My husband was doing his coworker.. My sister would bring my niece up to see me, since I had M.R.S.A, she would have to swaddle her in one of those silly yellow hospital gowns…it was the most beautiful sight! Regardless of how bad I felt, beautiful Bella could bring a smile to my face.

    I moved out of Ray and I’s home after I got out of the hospital. My kids, their father and our journey together was good. Our divorce was ugly. I didn’t like the person I became after that. I started drinking. I began abusing prescription pills. I was in a relationship with someone that on my best day, behaving badly, I wouldn’t tolerate. I still didn’t have a clue what I was supposed to be doing. I was just functioning, and not so good, most days. I am sure that the drinking and the pills didn’t help, but you can’t put your body thru what I have done and expect it to sit shotgun and keep quiet. January 2010, I have a Stroke. Holy Hell!

    Thanks to some amazing friends and co-workers, that helped me get medical attention, the only lasting damage brought on from the stroke was my vision. I went from cute little readers that matched all my outfits, to bi-focals, that for some reason only work when you raise your head up and look down your nose thru them with your mouth open..

    My intestines were so badly damaged from the numerous surgeries that I have very little left. I have 1/3 of my stomach left. Because of the vagas nerve damage, I have slow motility. My immune system is compromised. I do not absorb things normally, and have severe Iron deficiency and take INFED treatments every two to three months at the Cancer Specialists of Oklahoma. I know as the treatment come closer..My body has become very good at reminding me, that it is getting a little weary..

    I moved to eastern Oklahoma in December to spend time with my family and leave a lot of ugliness behind. My brother and his family has breathed new life into me..I love them so much !! Rekindled a friendship that spans over many years. She was an angel sent in my life to help straighten my butt up!! I give her full credit for being my wingman with God..and the relationship I have with him now.. Darla Pearce.. The puzzle pieces are falling into place. I spent Christmas in a lake house on Eufaula with my chubby corgi Lucille Ball. I wish I could say it was as sweet as it sounds. I cried alot. Had a few pity parties. And prayed. I prayed to God asking him for strength and grace. And I asked God to take me home, assuming that I was going to heaven.

    As I sit here and type these words now, I worry that I am taking the right steps. I know I am not seeing the faces of ones I thought certain would be here with me, and that makes me sad. In some sense it’s like I am coming full circle. I have re-connected with some really good friends, and met some new ones. I never want to come across as someone trying to tell others how to live their lives. I am certain I have in the past.

    A saying that has gotten stuck in my head is, I haven’t always done things the right way, but these days, I am trying to get things right with God. I mean that from my gut. I want the ones I love to know I love them! To know how many smiles and much laughter they are responsible for. As much as I try not to have my health at the front and center at the breakfast table each morning…simple is…

    So here I am, with that “time clock” ringing very loudly in my head and heavy on my heart. When I pray, I don’t pray for myself. I pray for those that love me and care for me to be strong, and when the time comes for me to go hang out with God…that they allow me the dignity and grace to go be with the Lord..I know in my heart..we will see each other again and I will have the horses saddled…..

    Lesley Blanche Sims

    1. Lesley, thank you for sharing your story. I do hope that you are taking an effort to find a minister or a counselor who might be able to help you feel more at peace with the world. Depression is a common side effect of gastric bypass surgery (you’ve had just about every other complication, so you know all about how this operation can affect one’s life). Since depression is a treatable illness, I do hope you’ll seek help. Your friends and family need you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *