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Gastric bypass: Learn about what to expect on the road to a new you

By Dr. Hugh Houston

The Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass has long been considered the “gold standard” for obesity surgery, and, depending on your unique needs, the gastric bypass can be an excellent tool for gaining long-term control of weight. Gastric bypass surgery is safe and effective, and our comprehensive aftercare program helps ensure weight loss success. These days, patients tend to do a lot of research for themselves on the internet, but much of what they find is unreliable. It is essential to educate yourself, but you need to make sure you are getting the right information. I want to ensure patients have everything they need to know before making this life-changing decision.

What is Gastric Bypass?

Gastric bypass is for obese individuals (BMI 35+) with associated weight related diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, high cholesterol and joint pain who need profound, rapid weight loss.

Gastric bypass surgery involves separating the stomach into two parts: an upper small gastric pouch and a lower gastric remnant that no longer receives food. At Nashville Weight Loss Solutions, we perform the Gastric Bypass as a minimally-invasive (laparoscopic) procedure where tiny incisions allow abdominal access with small instruments. This approach leads to reduced pain, less scarring, and faster recovery.

The gastric bypass procedure aids patient weight loss by restricting the volume of food intake, which creates a sense of satiety (fullness) with very small meals. Weight loss is also achieved through modest malabsorption, which limits the body’s absorption or intake of nutrients and calories in the uppermost intestines. In addition, gastric bypass patients rarely, if ever, feel the hunger sensation due to the reduction in the "hunger hormone" ghrelin.

The Gastric Bypass Pre-Op Diet

The purpose of pre-op dieting is to shed some fat from the abdomen so that the surgery is easier and quicker. A quicker surgery means less anesthesia time, less potential post-op nausea and vomiting, and it minimizes the chances of blood clots in the legs if you're on the operation table for a shorter period.

Another purpose of the pre-op diet is to aid in minimizing difficulties in the surgery. If the tissue in the area is thinner, and not as fatty, staple lines form better, reducing risk for leaks. Pre-op dieting shrinks the liver, so there is better visualization as the liver sits right on top of the stomach. Less fat in the abdomen also makes it easier to pull up the intestines to the pouch, making for a better connection. The tension on the connection determines leak rates, so for my bypass patients, I stress the necessity of pre-op weight loss.

The pre-op diet consists of protein shakes, plenty of fluids, and limiting the intake of carbohydrates and sugars. Each person’s pre-op diet is uniquely tailored to their individual needs, but the emphasis is to reduce fat around the organs in the abdomen so that there is less surgical risk and quicker recovery.

The Diet after Gastric Bypass

The post-op diet has four stages and is intended to prevent stretching of the stomach while it is still healing and to help patients adjust to their smaller meals. A comprehensive Aftercare program, like the one we offer at Nashville Weight Loss Solutions, assists with planning your diet and ensuring the best results. We are there for you every step of the way to make sure you have the tools you need to lose weight and keep it off.

Stage 1: Liquids Only - The first day or so will consist of clear liquids, and then you will be able to transition into drinking broths, protein supplements, and other full liquids.

Stage 2: Pureed Foods - After a week of liquids, you will be able to take in about 4-6 tablespoons of food for each meal that has been processed into a paste without any solid bits remaining. You will have to eat slowly, taking about half an hour to complete your meal.

Stage 3: Soft Foods - When we have determined that you are ready, you will be able to consume soft foods that are easy to chew.

Stage 4: Solid Foods - After a little over two months, you should be able to gradually begin eating some solid foods again.

At each stage of the post-op diet, you will need to make sure that you sip liquids between meals. You have to eat and drink slowly, chewing your food thoroughly and stopping before you are full. Your diet should consist of foods that are high in protein and low in sugar and fat.

Restrictions: One crucial factor of note with surgery, is that you will have to limit caffeine and avoid alcohol indefinitely. Both of these can cause dehydration and other problems.


The gastric bypass surgery takes about 1.5 hours to perform, and most patients stay in the hospital for two nights and return to work in two weeks. Because the surgery is performed laparoscopically, most patients do not need narcotic pain medication after the surgery. Gastric bypass patients can move around and perform everyday tasks without complications after about a week or as soon as they experience no discomfort or pain when they do so.

Side Effects and Risks

Some of the risks associated with gastric bypass include the surgical risk of intestinal obstruction and bypassed stomach segments not being easily visualized if problems arise down the road.

There are a few side effects associated with gastric bypass surgery, but with the proper diet plan and water intake, you can avoid most of them.

Side effects include:

  • Malnutrition

  • Dehydration

  • Food Aversion and Nausea

  • Emotional Changes

  • Sensitivity to NSAIDs


Our gastric bypass patients typically see an average loss of 75% of their excess weight by one year after surgery (individual results vary), and weight loss is generally higher than that observed with purely restrictive procedures. Bypass surgery also eliminates the need for reflux or diabetic medications. Success rates of weight loss surgery are much higher when patients actively participate in our comprehensive Aftercare program.

After gastric bypass, the majority of our patients see a marked improvement in their mobility and general outlook on life. The life goals patients have for post surgery can vary. Some patients want to be able to play with their children while others aspire to wear the clothes they want. Everyone has different goals and reasons for having this procedure, but with motivation and commitment, patients achieve life-changing transformations.


Are you ready to transform your life? Contact Nashville Weight Loss Solutions for more information on the gastric bypass.

Are you trying diet and exercise on your own, but still not getting the results you want? Nashville Weight Loss Solutions offers a comprehensive range of proven weight loss programs to help, whether you need to lose 20 pounds or 200. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation!

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