Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, also known as gastric bypass, is one of several weight loss or bariatric surgeries available to obese patients in the United States, alongside adjustable gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy and biliopancreatic division with duodenal switch. Reporting to surgery for weight loss is usually the last option for patients who struggle to do it with other methods. However, before undergoing gastric bypass or any other type of bariatric surgery, there are numerous factors to consider as well as preparations.

Gastric bypass is the most common bariatric surgery types in the country and it works by reducing the size of the stomach and rearranging the digestive system so that it won’t absorb as many calories. During the procedure, surgeons staple the stomach, creating a small pouch, which is later connected to a Y-shaped section of the small intestine. As a result, food bypasses part of the digestive system, making patients feel full faster and with smaller amounts of food.

What to Consider Prior to Deciding on Gastric Bypass

The decision to undergo gastric bypass must be made based on the advice of a physician. A medical care team will assess patients’ overall health, the need for a bariatric surgery and eligibility criteria before recommending it. In order to undergo gastric bypass, patients need to provide copies of the medical record with the results of the evaluation, medical clearance from the primary care physician, as well as psychological clearance. All patients undergo a psychological evaluation to assess if their overweight status is not associated with other problems like stress or binge eating, in which cases, surgery may not be the best option.

In addition, patients are also advised and need to consider all of the implications associated with it, including the risks, possible results, commitment needed before and after gastric bypass, and perhaps other non-surgical medically supervised weight loss programs. While patients may search for statistics on the efficacy and safety of gastric bypass, it is important to remember that the treatment does not start or end with the surgery. Before gastric bypass, patients will be advised to start making alterations in their lives and, after it, commitment and compliance with physicians’ recommendations on a healthy diet and regular physical activity is crucial to assure ongoing weight loss. Therefore, prior to any decision, patients and physicians need to evaluate the patients’ commitment toward the treatment.

Lifestyle Alterations Prior to the Gastric Bypass Surgery

The study “The Effect of Preoperative Weight Loss before Gastric Bypass: A Systematic Review” reveals how the lifestyle alterations need to start even before the gastric bypass procedure and its impact in the long-term. According to the authors. Preparing and adopting new habits before the gastric bypass is able to improve the results after it, since the more preoperative percent initial body weight loss, the more the percent total body weight loss, calculated from subtracting percent total body weight at initial consultation from achieved percent total body weight after surgery.

Therefore, the health care team will provide specific guidelines on behavioral alterations during the preparation for the surgery, which can take months or even more than a year. During the entire process, patients are followed by dietitian as well, and there is no fixed protocol. The medical team will define a plan according to each patient and considering age, weight, and the existence of any co-morbidity. In addition, some insurance companies require patients to lose some weight before being submitted to the surgery, as sign of their intent to continue the treatment after it.

Overall Preparation After Scheduling the Gastric Bypass

If the patient is fully aware of the implications of undergoing gastric bypass, has been cleared by the medical team, and has completed the preparation plan defined by the physicians, then it is time to schedule the procedure. Preparing for the big day might be stressful, but the physicians will provide patients with instructions and answer any of the remaining questions. Patients will be submitted to lab tests and exams before the surgery, in addition to the dietary restrictions. Physicians will also control the medication taken by the patients and will require them to quit smoking.

There is also other planning that needs to be done before the surgery. Patients need time to recover from the gastric bypass and it may helpful to ask the help of someone close to be at the hospital or during the first days at home. In addition, patients won’t be coming back to work until few weeks after the gastric bypass and home or work arrangements may be necessary. The day before the gastric bypass, it is mandatory for patients to follow the recommendations in order to reduce the possibility of side effects. The two general guidelines for the night before include not eating or drinking anything since the stomach must be empty to minimize surgical risks, as well as asking a friend or a family member to be at the hospital to offer both comfort and support.

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