So, I have had some questions lately from friends. Some people have asked me to describe what is involved in a gastric by-pass surgery. Not what I have to do to get ready, but what the doctor actually does to your insides that helps you eat less and thus lose weight. I have also had people who are considering different procedures and ask my opinion, because you know, I’m an expert, right?
OK, you can stop laughing now.
But seriously, unless you are researching gastric by-pass surgeries because you want to have one, you may not be aware of what actually happens when the doctor performs the surgery. I know I was not aware. And if you are considering the surgery, the best thing to do is to reach out to people who have had one of the procedures and ask questions. Each procedure is different and each person reacts differently to the results after the surgery. Oh and yes, there are several different types of gastric surgeries one can consider.
I want to spend some time today discussing some of the different surgeries and the doctor does. I will also include some YouTube videos and other links that will describe the surgeries better than I can. This post might be kind of long.
What is Gastric By-Pass Surgery?
Gastric By-pass surgery is when a surgeon somehow creates a much smaller stomach and re-routes your digestive track to that smaller stomach. This will help an obese overeater eat less and help them lose weight. There are several ways to achieve this smaller stomach.
The surgery can either be an open surgery or a laparoscopic surgery. An open surgery is exactly what it sounds like. This is a traditional surgery where the doctor makes a long incision to operate. A laparoscopic surgery is when a series of small incisions are made and tiny surgical tools are used to perform the surgery.
The different types of Bariatric surgeries are the Roux-en Y gastric by-pass, the lapband, the gastric sleeve, the lapband and gastric sleeve combo, and the duodenal switch. The Mayo Clinic has an excellent site with pictures and vivid descriptions of each of these surgeries, but I will give a brief description here.
Roux-en Y Gastric By-Pass
This is the surgery where a small pouch is made and the rest of the stomach is cut off and then the intestines are rerouted to the small pouch. An alternate version of this is to staple the larger stomach off from the pouch. This is the surgery that I had.
This YouTube video further describes the procedure if you’re interested. It is not graphic and does not show a live surgery, but uses pictures to show what he doctor does. I could not watch videos of live surgeries. Too gross for me.
The lapband is when a small band is used to create the small pouch instead of stapling. Sometimes the larger part of the stomach is reduced to create a gastric sleeve. There are a couple of different bands. One is a metal band that stays in your stomach. The other is an adjustable band that occasionally needs to be filled back up with fluid to keep it firmly tight around the pouch.
A gastric sleeve is when part of the stomach is removed to create a smaller narrow sleeve type stomach. This can be done on its own or in combination with the lapband.
This is the most drastic surgery. Usually, the stomach is left in tact or this procedure can be done in combination with gastric sleeve and the digestive tract is rerouted to by-pass most of the intestines. This is very drastic.
I am not very good at describing this surgery, so I am going to refer you to the YouTube video and the link I provided above. This was not a surgery that I wanted to have. Too drastic for me.
These are the primary procedures. Each surgeon has their own speciality. You will need to work with your surgeon to decide which procedure is best for you.
As far as my advice, I am happy to listen to anyone who wants to ask questions. I will happily answer them. If you have decided you definitely want one of these procedures, great. I have all kinds of advice and ideas.
If you are on the fence, my advice is to think about this some more. Go back to the drawing board. Talk to your doctor. Join a gym, try a new diet plan. Buddy-up with a friend. Seek counseling. Join a support group. Try to lose weight the traditional way through diet and exercise. Do not rush into a procedure because you feel helpless.
If after you feel you have tried everything and you feel surgery is your best option, go for it. Just remember, the surgery is a tool, not necessarily the answer. You will still have all of the problems you had before the surgery. The desire to eat or overeat is still there. Any depression or self-doubt persists. Laziness is still a problem. So, unless you are willing make those changes as well, the surgery will just be one more, albeit very expensive and drastic, short-term fix.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets. I learned a lot about myself and my health, both physically and mentally, through this process. I am glad I did it. I could not, however, have done this before I was ready.