In previous blog posts, I’ve discussed a lot about gastric bypass surgery and what to expect, but I’d like to go into detail about how exactly this surgery promotes weight loss. It is crucial for people considering this surgery to understand more about diet, required supplements, and other changes they may experience after surgery.
This procedure requires significant lifestyle changes for patients to see results and stay healthy afterward. I want to make sure people considering this surgery have managed their expectations and have the knowledge they need as they set out on this journey.
What is gastric bypass surgery and how does it work?
Gastric bypass surgery is making your stomach smaller permanently. The surgery is performed either robotically-assisted or laparoscopically, which means it is done with small incisions. During this surgery, we reduce the size of the upper stomach to a pouch the size of a small tangerine by stapling off the upper section of the stomach from the lower section. Then, we pull up intestines from below and attach it to the new small stomach pouch so food can get downstream for absorption. This intestine we pull up is called the Roux limb (after a French surgeon). It eventually ties back into the intestines from the lower stomach, so everything stays in continuity. Where the intestines meet back up, it forms a “Y” shape; hence the name Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass.
The resulting anatomy dramatically reduces the amount of food patients can consume. As a result, patients feel full with very small meals. Probably even more important than fullness, patients also have a significant reduction in baseline hunger. It has been shown that gastric bypass surgery can significantly reduce or even eliminate the body’s main hunger hormone called ghrelin. The combination of fullness with small meals and minimal hunger allows patients to stick to a strict dietary regimen and lose a significant amount of weight.
In addition to weight loss, this surgery is also incredible at helping people keep the weight off, which is probably the hardest part of this journey. Besides hunger control and portion control, there are two other tools that help people with maintenance. One is called Dumping Syndrome, which is a low sugar attack when patients consume too much sugar at one time. Two hours after consuming too much sugar, patients can feel light-headed, weak, shaky, and can even pass out. It is a huge negative reinforcement for a slip in the diet. The other side effect helps people avoid fatty, greasy foods. Too much intake of grease can lead to bloating, nausea, crampy pain, and just feeling yucky. It is unclear why this happens, but it can definitely deter poor food choices.
The safety and success of gastric bypass surgery relies on strict post-op dietary guidelines
In the first few weeks after surgery, we have to be careful not to overstretch the stomach while it is healing. Therefore, there are strict rules about diet consistency, and it progresses from thin liquids to thick liquids to soft foods to solids over 4-6 weeks.
In addition to consistency, there are strict rules about the quality of the diet. Since there is such a profound impact on patients' desire to eat or drink anything (grehlin elimination), the focus has to be on maintaining proper nutritional and fluid intake in the early post-op phase. Patients basically have to force themselves to get in their body’s minimal nutritional needs, such as protein, water, good fats, and vitamins. This leads to a dramatic calorie reduction and significant weight loss.
Vitamin supplements are vital to gastric bypass patients because they are no longer getting all the required nutrients from food. Patients will need to take a multivitamin with iron, vitamin B12, and calcium with vitamin D long-term.
What other changes can patients make to ensure success?
After gastric bypass, there are more changes patients will need to make beyond dietary restrictions. I advise my patients to participate in support groups and online message boards so they can find support and advice from other patients on how to deal with the multitude of life changes that come with this surgery.
Patients should work together with their families and loved ones to prepare for the changes to come. Some patients experience side-effects that affect their energy levels and mental health. It will be critical for the important people in their lives to be aware of these potential changes. Support from family during a lifestyle change will ensure patients maintain good habits by making changes together.
It is imperative patients maintain regular checkups after gastric bypass surgery, especially in the first year when the majority of weight loss occurs. We are here for our patients long-term as well. We want to build a relationship based on trust so that they can come to us with any struggle they may have down the road.
Gastric bypass surgery works by incorporating all of the above principles so that patients can experience an improved outlook on life. Some have expressed newfound freedom, while others find joy in their new and expanding wardrobes. Once patients get used to the changes that come with gastric bypass surgery, they will be able to enjoy more about their lives than before. Read our patient success stories to learn more about how this surgery has changed our patients’ lives.
Contact Nashville Weight Loss Solutions for more information about gastric bypass surgery.
Are you dieting and exercising 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!