Gastric bypass surgery

Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries make changes to your digestive system to help you lose weight by limiting how much you can eat or by reducing the absorption of nutrients, or both. Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries are done when diet and exercise haven't worked or when you have serious health problems because of your weight.

There are many types of weight-loss surgery, known collectively as bariatric surgery. Gastric bypass is one of the most common types of bariatric surgery in the United States. Many surgeons prefer gastric bypass surgery because it generally has fewer complications than do other weight-loss surgeries.

Still, all forms of weight-loss surgery, including gastric bypass, are major procedures that can pose serious risks and side effects. Also, you must make permanent healthy changes to your diet and get regular exercise to help ensure the long-term success of bariatric surgery.


Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

Gastric bypass surgery is done to help you lose excess weight and reduce your risk of potentially life-threatening weight-related health problems, including:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Severe sleep apnea
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke

Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries are typically done only after you've tried to lose weight by improving your diet and exercise habits.

Who it's for

In general, gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries could be an option for you if:

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is 40 or higher (extreme obesity).
  • Your BMI is 35 to 39.9 (obesity), and you have a serious weight-related health problem, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or severe sleep apnea. In some cases, you may qualify for certain types of weight-loss surgery if your BMI is 30 to 34 and you have serious weight-related health problems.

But gastric bypass isn't for everyone who is severely overweight. You may need to meet certain medical guidelines to qualify for weight-loss surgery. You likely will have an extensive screening process to see if you qualify. You must also be willing to make permanent changes to lead a healthier lifestyle. You may be required to participate in long-term follow-up plans that include monitoring your nutrition, your lifestyle and behavior, and your medical conditions.

And keep in mind that bariatric surgery is expensive. Check with your health insurance plan or your regional Medicare or Medicaid office to find out if your policy covers such surgery.

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