The surgery has been around for a while and the success rates are incredible. Understanding the pro’s and con’s of gastric bypass surgery allows a person to make informed decisions about their health and wellness.
In America, many in society are defined by the way they look on the outside. Some may call it flesh over substance, superficiality over depth, matter over mind. Negative judgments are made about overweight people immediately upon first glance even though a word between the two may not have been shared. Some are obvious about their disdain for the obese, leading to negative interactions with a large percent of America’s population.
When Gwyneth Paltrow anonymously wore a fat suit in public during the filing of the movie Shallow Hal, she noticed constant looks of disgust her way, that men would not open the door for her, and how people were less polite. It changed the way she interacted with obese people, giving more compassion to them.
However, though the public mindset should be to treat all people with kindness, there is a horrible and dangerous epidemic in our nation. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 1/3 of all American adults are obese, and most are exhausted from trying different weight loss methods, including diet and exercise, but there is hope in the form of gastric bypass surgery.
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What is gastric bypass surgery?
Gastric bypass surgery comes in a number of forms, but is primarily an invasive operation that segments the stomach into two parts – a large lower chamber, and a smaller upper chamber, and is divided by a band. This may also be called lapband surgery. The next element of the surgery is to make an opening in the small pouch and attach a portion of the small intestine to it while also maintaining attachment to the large portion of the stomach. A narrow channel links the upper and lower pouches. Each portion is able to process food.
A limited amount of food may enter the upper portion of the stomach, which slows down calorie intake. The person who undergoes this medical weight loss procedure feels full more quickly and may get sick and vomit if they try and eat more than the upper portion can hold.
This has become a common form of bariatric weight loss surgery, but is only eligible to some.
Who is eligible for gastric bypass surgery?
If you want to shed a few pounds for a high school reunion, you will not qualify for bariatric weight loss surgery. Either diet, exercise, do both, or, if you really want those few extra belly and thigh pounds to go, maybe consider liposuction.
While gastric bypass surgery is not a dangerous surgery to perform, it is only for those with life-threatening weight issues. To qualify, one must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 40%. This means that 40% or more of their total body weight is pure fat.
As well, you must be able to demonstrate that dieting and exercise has had no positive effects on your weight and health.
Finally, there are occasions when those who have a BMI between 35% and 40% are eligible for lapband surgery or a derivative, and that is when they have health problems that may not be correctable except through radical weight loss procedure, and include type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and other obese weight health related issues.
Rarely can someone from 30% to 35% receive this type of medical weight loss surgery unless they have dire health issues as a result.
Short and long-term benefits post surgery
Miracles are divine, and weight loss surgery human. Still, in some instances radical weight loss in the first 6 months is attainable. It is not uncommon to see the patient lose up to 80% of their desired weight within the first year after having had been operated on by a bariatric surgeon.
The collateral effects are enormous:
- Diabetes – Many people who are obese have diabetes. Radical weight loss often causes type 2 diabetes to disappear. This is an enormous benefit of having gastric bypass surgery as diabetes is known as the silent killer and harms so many different areas of the body.
- High Blood Pressure – High blood pressure is often a victim of radical weight loss. Pharmaceuticals used to treat high blood pressure are often reduced afterwards as weight is lost, and even stopped altogether as blood pressure in the formerly obese person is neutralized.
- Sleep Apnea – Sleep Apnea brings people to the point of death many times during a sleep session as sir passages between the mouth and lungs are closed not allowing air through. As you sleep your body fights all night to breathe. Few feel rested even after 8 hours of sleep because of the battle in your body all night. Sleep apnea is seen in most obese people. The extra weight puts pressure on the air passage. When weight is lost, the pressure goes away and one can resume breathing normally.
- Arthritis – Arthritis is caused by excessive weight being applied to the joints that it naturally cannot sustain. Arthritis develops as a result. After surgery, as weight loss occurs, less pressure is applied to the joints relieving them of the stress they used to endure, lessening the pain if not reducing it altogether.
- Other Benefits – Asthma is reduced, and the doctor is able to treat more effectively in the patient concerns like cancer, stroke, high cholesterol, and other diseases that may or ma not be a result of their obesity.
Possible complications after the surgery
The benefits must outweigh the possible complications when it comes to any kind of medical procedure, even something as necessary as bariatric weight loss surgery.
Still, one considering such a procedure will want to know the possible following complications this kind may bring about. Some are avoidable, while other may not be. Also, it does not mean the following will happen, only that they are possible complications.
- Nutritional Deficiencies – One of the goals of gastric bypass surgery is to reduce the amount of calories taken into the body. As a result, not enough of the right nutrients may enter. One has to be very careful what they eat and take supplements following surgery.
- Deep Vein Thrombosis – Blood clots can form in the legs and move up to the lungs leading to pulmonary embolism.
- Incision Hernia – During the surgery parts of the stomach are stapled. If the staples become loose it may lead to a breaking through of intestines and cause a hernia.
- Dumping Syndrome – Because the upper portion of the stomach is smaller, it is possible that some food may not get processed as quickly, and, therefore, get pushed into the small intestines before it would normally be ready to. As a result, this would cause irritation and pain, diarrhea, nausea, and dizziness. If there is a silver lining, sugars and carbohydrates may get dumped into intestines first before they are able to release their elements into the system.
Insurance and costs of bypass surgery
There are a number of factors that determine the costs of receiving gastric bypass surgery, including which bariatric surgeon is performing the procedure, what region the operation is being done, which hospital it is being performed at, and other unique aspects that would be discussed between surgeon and patient.
The average cost for this operation, including all hospital costs, is around $22,500. Not all insurance companies cover this procedure.
It is at the discretion of the insurance provider and is based on numerous factors. If your insurance company does cover some of the procedure, it is possible they will require you to pay for the rest. It is recommended that oen considering having this surgery contact their insurance provider to see.
Medicare does cover bariatric surgery for people who have BMI’s over 35, and occasionally those who have BMI’s close to that level, but suffer health issues directly due to obesity.
It is tragic that 1/3 of all Americans are obese. It may be the single most avoidable health issue of our time. Yet, for those who are beyond the point of no return in spite of doing everything in their own power to lose weight, gastric bypass surgery has so many benefits to the total person that it should be considered. Contact your local hospital and ask to speak with a weight loss specialist about your situation. Only good can come from it.
Carl Thomas writes for Medical Equipment and Services Review and specializes in educating others about medical equipment and medical services. He likes to write about his passion and educate others about what’s happening in the medical profession.