What are the Side Effects of Gastric Bypass Surgery?

A gastric bypass operation is a form of bariatric surgery which means basically that the indication to perform the surgery is losing weight. A gastric bypass is, compared to the popular gastric banding, an heavy operation. In this article we will outline the side effects of gastric bypass surgery but we will start with an introduction of the operation.

A gastric bypass was, before the upcoming gastric banding, the golden standard in bariatric surgery and is still performed at large scale. The principle of the operation is decreasing the volume of the stomach and bypass a part of the smaller intestine and thereby minimize the surface available for absorbing nutrients.
The most popular type of gastric bypassing is the roux-and y gastric bypass. During the operation a small pouch is created of the stomach using staples. Consequently the end of the stomach is attached to the last part of the small intestine, hereby bypassing the first part of the small intestine that is reattached. The bigger the part that is bypassed, the bigger the change of a complication and malnutrition.

The side effects of gastric bypass surgery can be subdivided in general operation complications like infection or bleeding and complications specific for gastric bypass surgery. The latter are for example gastric dumping syndrome and malnutrition. Gastric dumping syndrome is caused by undigested food that enters the small intestine to quickly. Characteristics of this syndrome are sweating, trembling, feeling unsteady, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms can either occur after half an hour till 1 hour after the meal, this is called early gastric dumping syndrome. Or after 1 till 3 hour, which is called late gastric dumping syndrome. These symptoms can be avoided by taking several small meals during the day. To prevent a bulk in the stomach it is better to drink as less as possible during the meal.

Malnutrition is basically the goal of the operation, however, not only the ‘weight-gaining’ nutrients are less absorbed. The lack of vitamins and healthy nutrients is an important point of care after surgery. After a gastric bypass surgery you will have to take extra vitamins and supplements. Gall stones are seen more frequently after bariatric surgery then after other surgeries, it is uncertain if this is due to the operation or the obesity itself. Nevertheless, some surgeons prefer to take out the gall bladder during the gastric bypass to prevent gall stones.

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