diet & weight loss

What does a gastric bypass involve, how much does it cost, and how risky is the operation?

A gastric bypass, also known as a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, is a form of weight loss surgery that works by reducing the size of your stomach and shortening the length of your digestive system. A small stomach pouch is created, and part of your small intestine is bypassed. This has the effect not only limiting the amount of food you can consume but also reducing the amount of food your body is able to absorb.

The procedure
A gastric bypass can be carried out either in open surgery or with a tiny camera, called a laparoscope. Open surgery involves making a large incision in the stomach to allow the surgeon to directly manipulate the stomach and small intestine. The laparoscopy procedure involves approximately five small incisions, through which the surgeon will pass the aforementioned tiny camera. Thin surgical tools will then be used to conduct the treatment, also through the small holes. Laparoscopy requires a shorter stay in the hospital, and usually involves less recovery time. More information on gastrointestinal bypass operations.

Roux en-Y operation
The majority of gastric bypass operations are carried out using the Roux en-Y technique, named after the French surgeon who devised the procedure. The technique involves creating a small pouch at the top of the stomach using surgical staples or a band. This pouch is connected directly to the middle portion of the small intestine bypassing the rest of the stomach and the upper part of the small intestine. More information on Roux en-Y bypass surgery.

After treatment
Most patients experience little more than minor pain after a gastric bypass operation. Discomfort can be controlled with pain killers, and shouldn't last more than a day or so. Although it can take several weeks to return to full health and fitness, most bypass patients require no longer three days in hospital. More information on what to expect after treatment.

Risks and side effects
Although the risks of serious complications arising from a gastric bypass are low, it is one of the more potentially dangerous obesity procedures. One in 200 patients will sadly die on the operating table or soon after. However, you must remember that many of these individuals are incredibly unhealthy in the first place. Common complications of bypass procedure include infection, excessive bleeding, deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism.

NHS treatment
Gastric bypass is available on the NHS in the UK. NHS staff are well versed in both the actual bypass procedure, and the after-care required for the treatment to prove successful. You can also have the operation at a number of private clinics both in the UK and abroad. More information on NHS gastrointestinal bypass.

Cost and prices
The price of a gastric bypass is free in the UK provided, of course, that you have the treatment on the NHS. At a private clinic, costs can range from £8,000 to upwards of £16,000. Cheaper treatment is available in counties such as Malaysia and India where you can save up to 40% of the costs you would pay at home. More details on gastrointestinal surgery prices.

You will find obesity clinics or private hospitals providing Roux en-Y bypass operations in most major UK towns and cities. Standards of care and treatment are generally very high, with some clinics arguably amongst the best in Europe. More information on Roux en-Y bypass clinics.

Common Bariatrics Questions

What are the side effects of a gastrointestinal bypass operation?

How much pain will I experience during or after a stomach banding procedure?

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Diet & Weight Loss