As a patient going into surgery, it's important to know what is going to happen when your procedure begins. You want to have an understanding so that you can better take care of yourself post operation and get through the recovery process with ease. For gastric bypass patients, otherwise known as bariatric surgery, it's a pretty simple process. While the surgery can be performed for many reasons, one of the many is to assist with weight loss.
Gastric bypass surgery is when a physician makes changes to your stomach and small intestine, adjusting the way you absorb and digest food. It can help restrict the amount of food your stomach can hold, and assists in limiting the number of calories and nutrients your body absorbs. Whether you're looking to get this operation done to assist with weight loss or to help with other stomach and medical issues, there are many benefits to having gastric bypass surgery.
WHAT EXACTLY IS GASTRIC BYPASS SURGERY?
Using general anesthesia, your physician will make 4 – 6 small cuts in your abdomen and begin to make small changes to your small intestine and stomach. By dividing the top of the stomach from the rest of the stomach, your surgeon will then make a small stomach pouch. Following that, they will divide your small intestine and align it with the newly created stomach pouch. Once your small intestine has been properly placed, it will be connected to your new stomach pouch to help stomach acids and digestive enzymes readily mix with food. This operation typically takes 2 – 4 hours to complete and then you're on the road to recovery.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE ME TO RECOVER?
On average, patients spend 2 – 3 days in the hospital following surgery. During this time, your nurses and physicians will work with you to monitor any complications and assist in introducing exercises to help speed along your recovery. They'll monitor things like your blood pressure, pulse, pain level, and much more. This is all done to ensure your body is moving in the right direction so that you can be released to go home.
Once your physician feels that you've made enough progress to safely return home and continue recovering, you'll be released with suggested dietary and activity plans. This may include things such as walking for a limited period of time each day, foods to avoid, wound care and plans to follow up within 10 days to 3 weeks following your surgery. After your initial follow-up appointment, you'll typically return in six weeks and then every three months to re-evaluate your progress.
POTENTIAL AND TYPICAL SIDE EFFECTS
One of the most common side effects noted with gastric bypass surgery is malnutrition. Due to the changes in your diet; what foods you can consume and how much you can consume at any given time - your body is limited to the nutrients it can absorb. Typically, your doctor will recommend that you take daily supplements to help balance out your vitamin levels.
A few vitamins you may need to take are as follows:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
Other common side effects may include what is known as the dumping syndrome. This typically happens when parts of a meal are 'dumped' from your stomach into your small intestine without being digested, and can lead to bloating or cramping. Sometimes you may experience dizziness or nausea, and even hunger shortly after you've eaten.
If these symptoms are frequent or continue, it is important to schedule an appointment with your physician to see what additional changes need to be made.
POST SURGERY NEED TO KNOW
Something to keep in mind, when considering gastric bypass surgery, is that it is life changing. Rather than temporarily adjusting your diet, you will find that you need to stick to your dietitian's recommendations long term.
Foods like seeds, popcorn, and some nuts may be difficult to digest post-surgery. This is due to how they expand in the gastric pouch. Another example is carbonated soft drinks. They tend to release and expand gas that can turn out to be painful if overly consumed. Overall, the surgery is performed to adjust how your body absorbs nutrients and will change how your stomach reacts to certain foods.
IN WHAT WAYS WILL THIS SURGERY CHANGE MY LIFE?
As you return home and begin getting back into your routines, your physician or dietitian will help create a nutrition plan you can follow. This will most likely include soft foods or a liquid diet temporarily. In addition to changing your diet overall, you will be advised to take supplements and have an active workout routine. Creating a consistent schedule to be active will help reduce the potential impact of muscle loss throughout your body and encourage healing for your newly adjusted stomach.
Over the span of 3 - 6 months, you will begin losing noticeable weight and your body will adjust to the new routines. Other changes that may be encouraged are drinking more water, increasing your protein intake, and avoiding caffeine for the first 30 days post-surgery or all together.
Naturally, as we get older and our metabolism slows down, we tend to slow down as well. With that being said, sometimes that means putting on a little more weight or not having time to be as active as we would like. If you are looking for ways to lose weight, get on a stricter diet, and get a head start on preventing weight gain in the future, then gastric bypass surgery might be right for you.
Contact us today if you have any questions or concerns on how gastric bypass surgery could impact and benefit you. One of our experts in the field will discuss all of the details you need to know and help you determine what the best option for your needs are. We look forward to talking with you and helping you reach your health goals.