Gastric bypass surgery step by step procedure guide

Basically, there are four stages to this surgical procedure:

  • The surgeon will make a long incision (open surgery) or a series of small incisions (laparoscopic) in the abdomen.
  • He/she will then use a special ‘staple gun’ with which to staple off a small part of the stomach to form a pouch. The rest of the stomach is left undisturbed. This differs from the sleeve gastrectomy or biliopancreatic diversion in which a large portion of the stomach is removed.
  • He/she will then use the staple gun to divide the small intestine. One end is joined to the newly formed stomach pouch. This will leave only a small opening for food to pass through.
  • Finally, he/she will take the other end of the small intestine and will ‘reroute’ it by joining it to the lower intestine. These newly joined sections resemble a ‘Y’ shape. The surgeon will then close the wound/s by means of sutures (stitches) or glue.

What this means is that food will travel down the section from the stomach pouch into the small intestine. Food will have been broken down by stomach acids but is not fully digested.

The second section contains enzymes and digestive juices which meet up with the partially digested food at the junction or ‘Y’ section. At this point they mix together but are not fully absorbed.

What this means for you is a reduction in calories absorbed which is great but, vital nutrients such as vitamins and minerals are not absorbed. This means there is a high risk of you developing a vitamin and/or mineral deficiency.

The solution to this is that you will have to take daily supplementation in order to prevent any long term health problems caused by this deficiency.

After the surgery you will be taken to a high dependency unit where their progress will be strictly monitored. If complications do arise they can be dealt with there and then. Once the medical staff are satisfied with your progress then you will be taken back to your room.

Open gastric bypass surgery

Open surgery is the name given to the traditional type of procedure in which the surgeon makes one long incision. This allows him/her to ‘open’ up the area to be worked on. A classic example of this is the heart bypass operation in which a large incision is made from the top of the chest down to the midsection. This gives the surgeon a large space to access and work on.

There will be scarring although this will heal over time. Recovery will take longer than that for laparoscopic surgery (keyhole).

This approach is still used although keyhole surgery is becoming much more common.

Laparoscopic (keyhole surgery) gastric bypass surgery

This procedure involves the surgeon making a series of small incisions. He/she will then insert small instruments into these incisions. This includes a ‘laparoscopic’ camera which allows the surgeon to have a close up view of the area to be operated on. The operation site will also be viewed on a large video screen in the theatre. This helps the surgeon to guide the instruments into the area to be worked on and when finished, allows him/her to withdraw these carefully.

The advantage of this procedure is that it does not leave the patient with one long scar: he/she will have a series of small scars which will eventually heal. Another benefit is that it takes less time than open surgery although it is too soon to say if this is a better method than the traditional approach.

Gastric Bypass Surgery Guide sections

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