The gastric bypass produces reliable results with minimal side effects and carries what most doctors and patients consider to be acceptable risks.
What is a Gastric Bypass?
It’s a common form of weight loss or “bariatric” surgery. It produces reliable results with minimal side effects and carries what most doctors and patients consider to be acceptable risks. Gastric bypass history goes back more than half a century and as such there are no mysteries attached to it for either the surgeon or the patient.
How Does Gastric Bypass Work?
During this type of bariatric surgery a large section of the stomach is literally stapled off creating a tiny pouch which will serve as the new stomach. This is then connected to the small intestine. As a result patients are unable to eat as much as they did previously because the new, smaller stomach simply can’t handle it and after just a small amount of food they feel full. Bypassing the bulk of the stomach in this manner creates a situation where some of the nutrients in food are not properly absorbed and the patient loses weight.
While gastric bypass has become a commonplace procedure, it is not one without risks (which we will get into shortly) nor is it a quick fix weight loss solution. It entails a lifetime commitment to eating better, taking the prescribed supplemental vitamins and minerals and avoiding things like fatty foods and sweets.
Benefits of a Gastric Bypass
Those wondering “what is gastric bypass and what are the benefits” can rest assured those benefits are real and quantifiable and have been shown through decades of experience to be long lasting and sustainable, which is the reason why this surgery has become so popular.
- Remission of Type 2 diabetes
- Help with high blood pressure
- Help with heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Relief of depression
- Joint pain relief
- Improve fertility
- Alleviate other medical conditions
By reducing or eliminating a rash of serious health conditions associated with obesity, this type of bariatric surgery can actually result in a significant increase in life expectancy for those who commit to the necessary dietary and lifestyle changes required. At the same time, daily quality of life is also significantly enhanced so one typically lives better for longer in the wake of this type of surgery.
In most cases the gastric bypass operation is performed laparoscopically. Laparoscopic surgery (also known as “minimally invasive surgery” (MIS) “keyhole surgery” or even “bandaid surgery”) is a form of surgery that does not require a wholesale opening up of the body cavity. Instead, smaller incisions are made and surgery is performed with the help of a tiny video camera which provides the surgeon a clear, close up view of the affected area. In most cases, pain and hemorrhaging are significantly reduced by laparoscopic surgery and recovery times are far shorter than those associated with “open” surgical procedures. Gastric bypass scars produced by laparoscopy are also far smaller than those produced by open surgery.
As we mentioned, obese individuals who undergo this type of surgery typically experience a higher quality of life afterwards. They are able to move around with ease, engage in outdoor activities that might have been impossible for them prior to surgery, and they are also free of the stigma that comes with perhaps needing a mobility scooter to get around or taking up 2 seats on a bus or plane. Stress on the skeletal system in general and joints in particular is also greatly reduced.
One lesser discussed benefit of bariatric procedures is the potential financial benefit. Eating just a fraction of what one ate previously can result in significant savings at the supermarket. Being in better health will likely result in one being more productive at their job and increase their earning potential. Patients won’t need mobility assistance devices either. In addition, being lighter and in better overall health should result in fewer trips to the doctor or emergency room. It’s also possible that a patient’s insurance company may cover part or even all of the cost of the surgery itself and it may also be easier to obtain health and life insurance at reasonable rates following this type of surgery.
Thanks to weightlossriga.com and the whole team, I’ve got a new, healthy and better life. I had surgery on the 11th April 2015 and weighed 94.5 kg…read more
I was quite apprehensive to travel abroad for surgery. The modern clinic was professionally staffed and the level of service given was second to none…read more
I am so delighted with my weight loss. It’s the best thing I’ve done for myself in years. Can’t recommend Riga highly enough…read more
I would highly recommend anyone looking for a truly professional and caring service, to look no further than Dr. Troickis and his wonderful team at Weight Loss Riga…read more
From start to finish the whole experience with Weight Loss Riga has been nothing short of amazing. Having chose to have the gastric bypass…read more
I went to the clinic in Riga and from the enquiries to booking to getting back home I was dealt with friendly professional advice…read more
I was one of the first from the UK to have my bypass with Weight Loss Riga and I still class it as one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life…read more
Weight Loss Riga has completely changed my life in an unimaginable way. I have spent years struggling with my weight and tried all sorts of diets…read more
I did a lot of research and decided to go with weight loss Riga via Mim, the UK patient coordinator. Within 2 weeks of my enquiry I was in Latvia…read more
I just wanted to post this review about my experience and journey to Riga. From start to finish i had the most laid back trip ever…read more
I made the decision to have a Gastric Sleeve at Weight Loss Riga after 40 years of struggling with my weight. I discovered Weight Loss Riga…read more
Hello. I have tried many diets over the years, but they failed. I contacted Mona in Riga to arrange and undertake Gastric Bypass surgery…read more
* This is feedback from our former patients, and such an outcome cannot be guaranteed or promised.
Risks of a Gastric Bypass
Gastric bypass surgery is just that, surgery. As such, it carries well known risks. Most of these risks fall into the “acceptable” category for both patients and doctors, although some of them are potentially quite serious. While the vast majority of people who undergo this type of procedure experience no significant side effects or complications, side effects and complications are a possibility. Therefore It’s important that you understand the risks involved before deciding to undergo a gastric bypass surgery procedure.
In a small percentage of cases, ulcers will form on the anastomosis of the intestine. In most cases, the condition can be effectively treated with dietary adjustments or medication.
Internal scarring is a risk with any type of surgery and that’s certainly the case with bariatric procedures. In a small number of cases scars can develop during the postoperative period that result in a narrowing of the intestinal tract. This narrowing can make it difficult for liquids to pass, which can cause significant discomfort and become a serious issue if left untreated. Thankfully, a fairly routine gastro-endoscopic procedure can usually correct the problem.
This is likely the most common negative side effect of this type of procedure. The modified stomach is not able to process nutrients to the same degree of effectiveness as it was previously. As a result, patients typically need to supplement their diet with a number of different vitamins and minerals and may need to do so regularly for many years. Most long term complications are the result of patients failing to take vitamins post gastric bypass, either because they forget or simply aren’t convinced of the medical necessity.
Gastric dumping happens when food passes too quickly from the stomach into the small intestine. Dumping syndrome, as it’s also known, can cause mild to severe diarrhea and/or abdominal cramps shortly after eating. Since most of the time dumping is caused by sugary foods, it can be prevented by alterations in your gastric bypass diet.
While it is extremely rare, there have been isolated cases where patients have died during or after the procedure. Although this has never happened at Weight Loss Riga, virtually any type of major surgery presents risk.
Who is a Candidate?
While the gastric bypass procedure is a common form of bariatric or weight loss surgery, it’s not for everyone. As we discussed above, it brings with it an array of possible side effects, complications and general health risks. In addition, it’s not like an appendectomy where, after a brief recovery period, the patient is free to resume their normal life. Bariatric procedures require the patient to adapt a completely new lifestyle if it is to be considered successful in the long run. Many are sufficiently motivated to do so, while others are not.
This type of bariatric procedure can produce life-altering results. About that the record is clear. But while this type of weight loss surgery can indeed lead to a better, longer, healthier life free of the threat of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, sleep disorders and more, it can also lead to significant complications, particularly if the patient is not able to muster the commitment necessary to the formulation of new dietary and lifestyle habits. Because of the potential downside, it’s crucial that doctors carefully screen prospective candidates in order to make sure the people chosen stand a reasonable chance of becoming gastric bypass success stories.
In the most general terms you may qualify for this type of gastric surgery if you:
• Possess a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or greater.
• Have tried repeatedly with little or no success to lose weight through traditional diet and exercise programs.
• You have a BMI of greater than 30 and you are experiencing serious health problems directly related to your weight. These may include sleep apnea, high blood pressure and diabetes.
• You have gone through puberty but are still a teenager, you have a BMI of 30 or more and you are experiencing serious health issues related to your weight such as type 2 diabetes.
If you meet the above guidelines and have decided to pursue gastric bypass surgery abroad, you will need to either call the clinic in question or complete an enquiry form on their website. A Patient Coordinator will then ring you up to discuss options. The Patient Coordinator in such cases is a vital link between the patient and the medical team both in the lead up to, and the aftermath of, surgery. Once the Patient Coordinator has finished the initial phone evaluation all necessary documents will be emailed to you along with a health questionnaire. It’s crucial that you fill out this questionnaire to the best of your ability. If you have any questions you should feel free to contact the Patient Coordinator who will be happy to assist you.
Once your health questionnaire has been completed and sent to the clinic it will be thoroughly reviewed by the medical team. The doctors will then determine your suitability for the gastric bypass procedure. Once the doctors have confirmed your suitability it will be time to proceed to the next phase of evaluation which will commence upon your arrival at the clinic.
Upon arrival you will have a private consultation with both the surgeon who will be performing the procedure as well as the anesthetist. A series of tests will be administered in order to ensure you are physically prepared to undergo gastric bypass. The preoperative test regimen is composed of the following:
- A complete chemistry panel.
- A glucose tolerance test looking for signs of diabetes.
- A complete blood count.
- An Electrocardiogram or ECG.
- Lung X-rays.
- An ultrasound examination of the abdomen, liver, kidneys, spleen and gallbladder.
- A gastroscopy using a miniature camera.
In the extremely unlikely event a previously unknown health condition such as an ulcer is revealed by the preoperative tests the doctor may recommend postponing the procedure for a few weeks in order to cure the condition. The surgeon will then perform another gastroscopy or other appropriate procedure to verify the situation has been cleared up so that surgery can proceed.
While there is no specific age before or after which a person is forbidden to undergo the gastric bypass surgery procedure it’s only fairly recently that it has come to be considered safe for both seniors and teenagers. As such these individuals may need to endure closer scrutiny before the procedure is approved for them.
The cost of a gastric bypass may present significant financial hurdles for a patient. It’s possible that your health insurance plan may cover some or even all of the cost of this type of weight loss surgery, but you will need to be sure you have pre-approval from the insurer prior to surgery. The same goes for any other type of medical assistance program. In order to receive pre-approval, members of the evaluation team will need to sign off on the notion that this procedure is not only justified but necessary from a medical standpoint.
While there is little doubt that gastric bypass surgery is more than worth the expense for most people who undergo it, however, paying for the procedure can still represent a significant obstacle. As we’ve seen, different insurance companies may impose different burdens of proof regarding whether the surgery is necessary, with some simply refusing to even consider covering it. How is one supposed to pay for it if the insurance company won’t help? The answer is yes, “By having the procedure in Riga”.
Take a look at the chart below. Before you start thinking the difference will be made up with what you spend on airfare and accommodations, do a quick Internet search of airfares. You’ll find they can be had for very reasonable prices. And when it comes to accommodations the cost of your ultra-modern room in our clinic is included in the Weight Loss Riga price. So the notion that you’re going to pay the same either way is simply not true. Not even close. Now let’s take a closer look at that price comparison chart.
It’s important to keep a number of things in mind when it comes to this type of weight loss surgery. Perhaps primary among them is the fact that this is not a miracle cure that is going to solve all your problems and deliver you a worry free life. There is no guarantee that you’ll lose as much weight as you hope and, if you are not diligent in following the recommendations of your doctor, you will likely have trouble keeping the weight off in the long term. Failure to comply with postoperative lifestyle and dietary changes may also lead to very unpleasant or downright dangerous complications.
All that said, if you’ve jumped all the evaluation hurdles, made sure your financial ducks are in a row and have undergone the procedure, it is now time to plan your postoperative lifestyle.
While we covered the potential risks above we need to take a closer look at some of the more dangerous potential health problems that can occur in the wake of gastric surgery. While these risks sometimes be avoided or prevented, we always allow our patients the benefits of knowing what risks are involved in any weight loss surgery.
Is there a difference between being obese and just being overweight?
To be considered “overweight” a person just needs to weigh more than what is considered healthy for their height. In general terms a person would be considered overweight if their body mass index (BMI) was between 25 and 29.9. A person with a BMI greater than 30 is technically considered “obese”. While someone with a BMI between 35 and 39.9 is considered severely obese and someone whose body mass index exceeds 40 is considered morbidly obese. So the short answer to the question of whether there is a difference between “overweight” and “obese” is “yes”.
What is the BMI?
The body mass index has been around for decades and is derived from formulas that go back centuries. The BMI is a measure of weight in relation to height though the standard for what is considered “normal” and what is considered “overweight” has changed some over the years. In the 70s and early 80s normal was considered 27.8 for men and 27.3 for women. Complaints emerged that separating the two represented a kind of sexism and so the two measures were consolidated in 1998 and what is considered normal BMI was modified to a range of 25 to 29.9. With anything over 30 being considered obese. There are plenty of health professionals today who take issue with both the consolidation of the two standards and the lowering of “normal” to 25 but for now the BMI is what it is and it is one of the measures by which gastric bypass surgery procedure candidates are judged.
Is there a gastric bypass surgery age limit?
In the not too distant past weight loss surgery of this kind was considered inappropriate for teens as well as senior citizens. But as the procedure has become increasingly commonplace the “safe” range has been expanded to include post-pubescent teens and people over 60. Typically however there is a higher level of proof required in order for teens to get approval for this type of surgery. Not least because people at that age have very little concept of what a lifetime commitment actually entails. At the other end of the spectrum patients over 65 are also held to a higher standard of proof simply because major surgery on anyone of that age or older carries significant risk of morbidity. Since risk then often outweighs any benefit a person may enjoy for a short while this type of surgery in the elderly is often discouraged.
What tests will I have to undergo before surgery?
Tests that are commonly given in preparation for bariatric surgery include:
- Complete Chemistry Panel.
- A glucose tolerance test as a way to test for diabetes.
- A complete blood count.
- Electrocardiogram and chest x-ray.
- Gallbladder ultrasound.
- Abdominal ultrasound.
- Ultrasound of the liver, kidneys and spleen.
The point of these tests is to provide the surgeon with the most complete picture possible of the patient before embarking on such a life altering process. While many will desire this type of weight loss surgery the fact is not everyone is suited to it. These tests help weed out those who are not good candidates.