Before Gastric Bypass: What You Need to Know and Do?

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Gastric bypass is a type of weight loss surgery that can help you lose excess weight and improve your health. However, it is not a quick fix or a magic solution. You need to be prepared for the surgery and committed to the lifestyle changes that are necessary for your long-term success. In this blog post, we will discuss what you need to know and do before gastric bypass surgery, including:

  • Who can have gastric bypass surgery
  • How to prepare for gastric bypass surgery
  • What to expect on the day of surgery
  • What are the risks and complications of gastric bypass surgery
  • What are the benefits of gastric bypass surgery
  • How is gastric bypass different from other weight loss surgeries

Who Can Have Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery is not for everyone who is overweight or obese. You need to meet certain criteria to qualify for this surgery, such as:

  • Having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or 35 to 39.9 with a serious weight-related health problem, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea
  • Having tried to lose weight by improving your diet and exercise habits without success
  • Being willing to make permanent lifestyle changes to maintain your weight loss
  • Being committed to follow-up visits with your bariatric surgery team and other health care providers

Your doctor will evaluate your medical history, physical exam, blood tests, imaging tests, psychological assessment, and nutritional counseling to determine if you are a good candidate for gastric bypass surgery.

How to Prepare for Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Before you have gastric bypass surgery, you need to follow a pre bariatric surgery diet that is designed to help you lose weight, reduce the size of your liver, and lower the risk of complications during surgery.

The pre bariatric surgery diet is usually a low-calorie, high-protein, and low-carbohydrate diet that consists of:

  • Protein shakes or bars that provide about 60 to 80 grams of protein per day
  • Clear liquids, such as water, broth, sugar-free drinks, and sugar-free popsicles
  • Non-starchy vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, cucumber, celery, and zucchini
  • Lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs
  • Low-fat dairy products, such as skim milk, yogurt, and cheese

The pre bariatric surgery diet may vary from person to person, depending on your weight, health, and goals. Your doctor and dietitian will provide you with a specific meal plan and guidelines to follow. Some general tips to follow the pre bariatric surgery diet are:

  • Eat three small meals and one or two snacks per day
  • Drink at least 64 ounces of water per day
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and sugary drinks
  • Avoid fried, fatty, spicy, and sugary foods
  • Avoid bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, and other starchy foods
  • Avoid fruits, juices, and dried fruits
  • Avoid nuts, seeds, popcorn, and other foods that may cause blockage or irritation in your stomach
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements as prescribed by your doctor
  • Chew your food well and eat slowly

Following the pre bariatric surgery diet can help you lose weight, reduce the size of your liver, and lower the risk of complications during surgery. It can also help you get used to the new way of eating that you will need to adopt after surgery.

What to Expect on the Day of Surgery?

On the day of your gastric bypass surgery, you will need to follow some instructions to ensure a safe and successful procedure. These instructions may include:

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery
  • Take your medications as instructed by your doctor, but avoid aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements that may increase bleeding
  • Shower with antibacterial soap the night before and the morning of surgery
  • Wear loose and comfortable clothing and leave your jewelry, valuables, and contact lenses at home
  • Arrive at the hospital at least two hours before your scheduled surgery time

Once you arrive at the hospital, you will be checked in and taken to a pre-operative room where you will change into a hospital gown. A nurse will check your vital signs, place an IV in your arm, and give you fluids and medications. You may also be given a shot of blood-thinning medication to prevent blood clots. Your anesthesiologist and surgical team will greet you and review the surgery with you. You may need to sign additional consent forms at this time.

Gastric bypass surgery is usually performed laparoscopically, which means that the surgeon makes small incisions in your abdomen and inserts special instruments to create a small pouch from your stomach and connect it to your lower part of your small intestine.

What are the Risks and Complications of Gastric Bypass Surgery?

As with any major surgery, gastric bypass surgery has some potential risks and complications, both in the short term and long term. Some of the possible risks include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection
  • Adverse reactions to anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Lung or breathing problems
  • Leaks from the cut edge of the stomach
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction
  • Hernias
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Malnutrition
  • Vomiting
  • Ulcers

The risk of complications depends on several factors, such as your age, weight, health, and surgical technique. Your doctor will discuss the possible risks and complications with you before the surgery and monitor you closely after the surgery. You can also reduce the risk of complications by following your doctor’s instructions, taking your medications, and reporting any signs of infection, bleeding, or other problems.

What are the Benefits of Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery can help you lose up to 70% of your excess body weight within one to two years. It can also improve or resolve many weight-related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obstructive sleep apnea, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and infertility. Gastric bypass surgery may also reduce your hunger and appetite by lowering the levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger.

Gastric bypass surgery can help you achieve your health and wellness goals, but it also requires lifelong commitment and follow-up. You will need to follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly, take vitamin and mineral supplements, and attend support groups and counseling sessions to maintain your weight loss and prevent complications.

How is Gastric Bypass Different from Other Weight Loss Surgeries?

Gastric bypass is one of the most commonly performed types of weight loss surgery, but it is not the only option. Other types of weight loss surgery include:

  • Sleeve gastrectomy: This surgery involves removing about 80% of your stomach, leaving a banana-shaped sleeve. This reduces the amount of food you can eat and lowers your hunger hormone levels. Unlike gastric bypass, this surgery does not affect your intestines.
  • Adjustable gastric band: This surgery involves placing a silicone band around the upper part of your stomach, creating a small pouch. The band can be tightened or loosened by injecting or removing saline through a port under your skin. This controls the amount of food you can eat and the speed of digestion. Unlike gastric bypass, this surgery is reversible and does not affect your intestines.
  • Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch: This surgery involves removing most of your stomach and bypassing most of your small intestine. This reduces the amount of food you can eat and the amount of calories and nutrients you can absorb. This surgery is more effective than gastric bypass for weight loss, but it also has more risks and complications.

Each type of weight loss surgery has its own advantages and disadvantages. Your doctor will help you choose the best option for you based on your weight, health.

Resource: Mayo Clinic

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