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Bariatric Bypass Surgery

Nearly one in six Americans is either clinically obese. Some live day to day with the morbid obesity, a condition that increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. One of the most efficient ways to combat these risks is through bariatric surgery or bariatric bypass surgery.

Bariatric bypass surgery is also commonly called gastric bypass surgery. In lay terms, it has been come to be called stomach stapling, but the term is often misleading.

There are basically two kinds of bariatric bypass surgery: restrictive and malabsorption. With restrictive bariatric surgery, the stomach is made smaller, reducing the amount of food a patient is able to intake which results in weight loss. The malabsorbtion method is different, in that, the small intestine is shortened and a small pouch is inserted, carrying food directly from the esophagus to the small intestine for excretion. More specifically, a small pouch is created at the top of the stomach and the rest is permanently separated. The small intestine is then attached to the new pouch creating a new digestive tract.

Restrictive operations for obesity include adjustable gastric banding (AGB) and vertical banded gastroplasty (VBG). Restrictive operations serve only to restrict food intake and do not interfere with the normal digestive process. To perform the surgery, doctors create a small pouch at the top of the stomach where food enters from the esophagus. Initially, the pouch holds about 1 ounce of food and later expands to 2-3 ounces. The lower outlet of the pouch usually has a diameter of only about ¾ inch. This small outlet delays the emptying of food from the pouch and causes a feeling of fullness.

Malabsorptive operations are the most common gastrointestinal surgeries for weight loss. They restrict both food intake and the amount of calories and nutrients the body absorbs.

Malabsorptive surgery produces more weight loss than restrictive operations, and are more effective in reversing the health problems associated with severe obesity. Patients who have malabsorptive operations generally lose two-thirds of their excess weight within 2 years.

One of the most widely used bariatric bypass procedures is the Roux-en-y approach and more often than not, physicians use laparoscopic techniques to aid in the procedure. Laparoscopic bariatric surgery uses a camera to help surgeons perform the operation with added accuracy and less intrusion for the patient. The result is a speedier recovery with an overall better cosmetic outcome.

When it comes to laparoscopic bariatric bypass surgery, it is important to remember that not all patients qualify for the procedure. Qualification for this kind of surgery is dependant on the patient’s medical history and current medical condition. If the laparoscopic approach is not an option, physicians will refer to the ”open” technique, which involves a large incision through the chest and/or stomach while surgeons work with traditional bariatric methods and equipment. The ”open” technique is still widely used among bariatric surgeons, although doctors tend to favour the laparoscopic approach due in large part to the recovery time and overall satisfaction of the patient.