Gastric Bypass (Weight Loss Surgery)

Gastric bypass is a type of weight loss surgery. The procedure aims to reduce the amount of calories absorbed from your food whilst helping you to feel full after eating smaller meals.

A small pouch is created at the top of your stomach. This pouch is then connected directly to a section of your small intestine, bypassing the rest of the stomach and bowel. This means that it will take less food to make you feel full and you will also absorb fewer calories from the food you eat.

Your surgeon will confirm your BMI score and carry out a detailed assessment before deciding if surgery is suitable for you.

What happens?

A gastric bypass operation takes between one and three hours. It is usually performed as a type of laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery where possible, as this causes less pain afterwards and has a faster recovery time.

Keyhole surgery is carried out by making small cuts in your abdomen. Your surgeon will place surgical instruments along with a telescope inside your abdomen to perform the operation. Using surgical staples, your surgeon will make a pouch out of the top of your stomach, separating it from the lower part of your stomach. Your surgeon will then make an opening in the pouch and connect it to a section of your small intestine. The contents of your new stomach pouch will now bypass the rest of your stomach and the first part of your small bowel.

Your surgeon may insert a drain, to help remove any fluid or blood that might have collected inside your abdomen. He or she will close your cuts with stitches or small metal clips, and place a dressing over your wounds.

What are the risks?

As with any surgery, the possible complications are bleeding, infection or clots forming in leg veins or moving to the lungs. With this surgery, albeit small, the main risk is leakage from the joins between bowels and stomach. If it does happen, it occurs in the first 2 days, and a return to surgery is required to deal with the problem. Other minor risks, such as hernia formation are much less common.

Ask your consultant to explain how any risks might apply to you.