Gastric bypass surgery (aka Roux-en-Y gastric bypass) is an operation that’s designed to support weight loss. It shrinks the stomach and bypasses part of your small intestine in order to help you reduce portion sizes and limit calorie absorption. When paired with diet and exercise, gastric bypass can lead to dramatic weight loss in a relatively short period of time.
Often, gastric bypass is done laparoscopically, which involves small incisions and a tiny camera. This technique reduces complications and discomfort, making it easier to get back to life as normal. The procedure itself usually takes a couple hours, but there’s also preparation time and recovery to factor in as well.
Bariatric Surgery Preparation
The preparation for bariatric surgery is often the most lengthy part of the process. This is because you’ll need to start implementing the kind of habits gastric bypass is designed to support, and that can take time.
Typically, you’ll need to make a good faith effort at losing weight before surgery, which could take weeks or even months. Many insurance companies won’t cover bariatric surgery unless you complete a weight loss program, though policies and providers may vary. In addition, you may need to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether you’re mentally prepared for surgery, and if you smoke, you’ll have to quit.
Immediately prior to surgery, you’ll have some restrictions on what you can eat or drink, and you’ll have to avoid some medications.
Operation Time for Gastric Bypass
Once you’ve completed all necessary preparations, you’ll be able to undergo the actual operation. This is actually the quickest part of the process since gastric bypass surgery takes onlytwo to three hours to complete. You’ll be under general anesthesia during that time, so you won’t be awake during that time.
At Dr. Malladi’s practice, gastric bypass is done laparoscopically. Laparoscopic gastric bypass, which uses small incisions and a tiny camera to view the surgical area, is more complex than open gastric bypass, but it generally doesn’t take any longer to perform. In fact, one study found that the average operating time for laparoscopic gastric bypass was around 186 minutes, while open surgery took just over 200 minutes.
Recovery Time for Gastric Bypass
After surgery, you’ll spend a few days in the hospital. After that, you’ll get to go home and begin working toward getting your life back to normal.
Once you get home, you’ll need to avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activities, particularly if they cause pain. You should walk around during this time to prevent blood clots, but make sure you get plenty of rest as well.
After two or three weeks, your wound will be completely sealed and you should be able to return to work. That said, you should avoid strenuous activity for at least four weeks if you had laparoscopic surgery. Open surgery requires 12 weeks of recovery.
You’ll have to work up to normal food over the course of a few months, starting with liquids right after surgery and gradually adding more solid foods as you go.After about three months, you should be at full tilt on your weight loss diet.
Gastric Bypass Recovery FAQs
Some of the questions patients ask about gastric bypass surgery include the following.
How long is the hospital stay after gastric bypass?
Usually, you won’t have to stay at the hospital longer than two or three days after surgery. If you had any complications, that stay may be longer.
How many incisions are needed for gastric bypass?
Laparoscopic gastric bypass uses five or six small incisions. Your surgeon will use those incisions to insert a laparoscope (a tiny camera on a tube) and various instruments during surgery. This is preferred to open surgery since the incisions are much smaller and ultimately cause less damage.
How soon after bariatric surgery can I drive?
If you’re taking pain medications that cause drowsiness, you should refrain from driving until you’re off those medications. For laparoscopic gastric bypass, that’s usually about four weeks.
Gastric Bypass – Making the Commitment
For many people, gastric bypass surgery is a major step in weight loss. It requires commitment from you if it’s going to be successful, and part of that commitment is the preparation and recovery time. When everything goes well, it should change your life for the better.
If you’re obese and have been struggling to lose weight, you may qualify for bariatric surgery. Contact Dr. Malladi to see if gastric bypass is right for you.