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"What is gastric bypass surgery?"


I'm a late middle-aged man trying to get my weight under control. What are the costs and benefits of gastric bypass surgery? When is it recommended? I'm starting to develop health problems related to being overweight.


Congratulations on your attempt to get your weight under control. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your health. I would encourage you to talk to your primary care physician to further assess your need and eligibility Gastric bypass surgery is a general term for a collection of surgeries that are aimed at weight reduction.

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The procedure is done by a bariatric surgeon who your primary doctor can refer you to. In general, the procedures work to decrease the size of the stomach. The smaller stomach results in people being able to eat less and subsequently losing weight. The bypass refers to the original procedure where the small intestine was used as a substitute pouch to "bypass" the stomach. Other procedures now simply put an inflatable band around the stomach. The major indication for gastric bypass is based on Body Mass Index or BMI. This is your weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. Generally speaking, BMI >40 is an indication or BMI > 35 with associated weight related co-morbidity. There are always risks associated with surgery and this one is no exception. Infections, bowel leakage and bleeding can occur. The rate of complications vary with surgeon but may be ~10%. Gastric bypass surgery is a good option for people who meet the above indications. There are some contraindications that one must consider and an overall risk / benefit analysis is needed. Discuss this with your doctor who may refer you to a bariatric surgeon.

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