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Weight Loss Surgery 101: Gastric Bypass

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 80 percent of adults in the United States are overweight, and half of these people are considered obese. Obesity can pose a risk for serious conditions including Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Obesity has a long list of possible causes and can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or race. For those who cannot control their weight through diet and exercise alone and are morbidly obese, bariatric (weight loss) surgery may be a good option.

There are several different types of weight loss surgery currently available. The wide range of surgery options may seem overwhelming at first, but your surgeon can help you determine what option will be best based on a one-on-one conversation and evaluation.

One procedure available to patients is called a gastric bypass. Gastric bypass surgery was the first successful weight loss surgery, first performed more than 30 years ago, and is one of the most commonly performed weight loss surgeries today.

According to Dr. James Bittner IV, gastric bypass surgery helps patients lose weight by altering how the stomach and small intestine handle food. “Following gastric bypass surgery, food consumed by the patient only goes through a portion of the stomach and small intestine,” Bittner says. “This means that patients feel full with far less food and the amount of calories absorbed by your body is reduced.”

During a gastric bypass procedure, the surgeon divides the stomach into two sections: a small upper section, and a larger bottom section. The smaller stomach section of the stomach, which is where food will now pass through, is then connected to the small intestine, which helps the body absorb fewer calories.

If you are considering weight loss surgery, the first step is starting the conversation with a doctor who specializes in weight loss surgery. The benefits to gastric bypass surgery can be substantial for those who are morbidly obese, but just as with any surgery, there can be risks as well. Your doctor can help determine eligibility, discuss lifestyles changes that must be made along with the surgery and discuss which surgery will be the right fit.

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