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Types of Gastric Bypass Surgeries

There are several types of restrictive and combined operations. Each one has its own benefits and risks.

Restrictive Operations

Purely restrictive operations only limit food intake and do not interfere with the normal digestive process. To perform the operation, doctors create a small pouch at the top of the stomach where food enters from the esophagus. At first, the pouch holds about 1 ounce of food and later may stretch to 2-3 ounces. The lower outlet of the pouch is usually about ½ inch in diameter or smaller. This small outlet delays the emptying of food from the pouch into the larger part of the stomach and causes a feeling of fullness.
After the operation, patients can no longer eat large amounts of food at one time. Most patients can eat about ½ to 1 cup of food without discomfort or nausea, but the food has to be soft, moist, and well chewed. Patients who undergo restrictive procedures generally are not able to eat as much as those who have combined operations.

Purely restrictive operations for obesity include adjustable gastric banding (AGB) and vertical banded gastroplasty (VBG).

  • Adjustable gastric banding. In this procedure, a hollow band made of silicone rubber is placed around the stomach near its upper end, creating a small pouch and a narrow passage into the rest of the stomach (figure 2). The band is then inflated with a salt solution through a tube that connects the band to an access port placed under the skin. It can be tightened or loosened over time to change the size of the passage by increasing or decreasing the amount of salt solution.


 

  • Vertical banded gastroplasty. VBG uses both a band and staples to create a small stomach pouch, as illustrated in figure 3. Once the most common restrictive operation, VBG is not often used today.

Advantages: Restrictive operations are easier to perform and are generally safer than malabsorptive operations. AGB is usually done via laparoscopy, which uses smaller incisions, creates less tissue damage, and involves shorter operating time and hospital stays than open procedures. (See below for more information on laparoscopy.) Restrictive operations can be reversed if necessary, and result in few nutritional deficiencies.

Disadvantages: Patients who undergo restrictive operations generally lose less weight than patients who have malabsorptive operations, and are less likely to maintain weight loss over the long term. Patients generally lose about half of their excess body weight in the first year after restrictive procedures. However, in the first 3 to 5 years after VBG patients may regain some of the weight they lost. By 10 years, as few as 20 percent of patients have kept the weight off. (Although there is less information about long-term results with AGB, there is some evidence that weight loss results are better than with VBG.) Some patients regain weight by eating high-calorie soft foods that easily pass through the opening to the stomach. Others are unable to change their eating habits and do not lose much weight to begin with. Successful results depend on the patient’s willingness to adopt a long-term plan of healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Risks: One of the most common risks of restrictive operations is vomiting, which occurs when the patient eats too much or the narrow passage into the larger part of the stomach is blocked. Another is slippage or wearing away of the band. A common risk of AGB is breaks in the tubing between the band and the access port. This can cause the salt solution to leak, requiring another operation to repair. Some patients experience infections and bleeding, but this is much less common than other risks. Between 15 and 20 percent of VBG patients may have to undergo a second operation for a problem related to the procedure. Although restrictive operations are the safest of the bariatric procedures, they still carry risk—in less than 1 percent of all cases, complications can result in death.

Combined Restrictive/Malabsorptive Operations

Combined operations are the most common bariatric procedures. They restrict both food intake and the amount of calories and nutrients the body absorbs.

  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RGB). This operation, illustrated in figure 4, is the most common and successful combined procedure in the United States. First, the surgeon creates a small stomach pouch to restrict food intake. Next, a Y-shaped section of the small intestine is attached to the pouch to allow food to bypass the lower stomach, the duodenum (the first segment of the small intestine), and the first portion of the jejunum (the second segment of the small intestine). This reduces the amount of calories and nutrients the body absorbs. Rarely, a cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal) is performed to avoid the gallstones that may result from rapid weight loss. More commonly, patients take medication after the operation to dissolve gallstones.
     

  • Biliopancreatic diversion (BPD). In this more complicated combined operation, the lower portion of the stomach is removed (see figure 5). The small pouch that remains is connected directly to the final segment of the small intestine, completely bypassing the duodenum and the jejunum. Although this procedure leads to weight loss, it is used less often than other types of operations because of the high risk for nutritional deficiencies. A variation of BPD includes a “duodenal switch” (see figure 6), which leaves a larger portion of the stomach intact, including the pyloric valve that regulates the release of stomach contents into the small intestine. It also keeps a small part of the duodenum in the digestive pathway. The larger stomach allows patients to eat more after the surgery than patients who have other types of procedures.

Advantages: Most patients lose weight quickly and continue to lose for 18 to 24 months after the procedure. With the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, many patients maintain a weight loss of 60 to 70 percent of their excess weight for 10 years or more. With BPD, most studies report an average weight loss of 75 to 80 percent of excess weight. Because combined operations result in greater weight loss than restrictive operations, they may also be more effective in improving the health problems associated with severe obesity, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, and osteoarthritis.

Disadvantages: Combined procedures are more difficult to perform than the restrictive procedures. They are also more likely to result in long-term nutritional deficiencies. This is because the operation causes food to bypass the duodenum and jejunum, where most iron and calcium are absorbed. Menstruating women may develop anemia because not enough vitamin B12 and iron are absorbed. Decreased absorption of calcium may also bring on osteoporosis and related bone diseases. Patients must take nutritional supplements that usually prevent these deficiencies. Patients who have the biliopancreatic diversion procedure must also take fat-soluble (dissolved by fat) vitamins A, D, E, and K supplements, and require life-long use of special foods and medications.
 


RGB and BPD operations may also cause “dumping syndrome,” an unpleasant reaction that can occur after a meal high in simple carbohydrates, which contain sugars that are rapidly absorbed by the body. Stomach contents move too quickly through the small intestine, causing symptoms such as nausea, bloating, abdominal pain, weakness, sweating, faintness, and sometimes diarrhea after eating. Because the duodenal switch operation keeps the pyloric valve intact, it may reduce the likelihood of dumping syndrome.

Risks: In addition to risks associated with restrictive procedures such as infection, combined operations are more likely to lead to complications. The risk of death associated with these types of procedures is lower for the gastric bypass (less than 1 percent of patients) than for the biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (2.5 to 5 percent). Combined operations carry a greater risk than restrictive operations for abdominal hernias (up to 28 percent), which require a follow-up operation to correct. The risk of hernia, however, is lower (about 3 percent) when laparoscopic techniques are used.

The Normal Digestive Process

Gastric Bypass Surgery and Weight Loss

Body Mass Index Chart

Types of Gastric Bypass Surgeries

Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric Surgery for Adolescents

Is Gastric Bypass Surgery for You? What is the cost of Gastric Bypass Surgery?

 

 
 
 
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