Gastric bypass was introduced more than 35 years ago and is still widely used today. About half of gastric bypass operations are performed through open-surgery involving a long incision to the abdomen while the other half are performed laparoscopically.

Gastric bypass involves a stapling device which cuts and separates a small piece of the stomach from the rest of the stomach. The top portion becomes the new stomach and the rest is closed off permanently. The upper part of the small intestine is then divided completely with the stapling device.

One of the divided ends of the intestine is routed to the newly created smaller stomach allowing food to enter. The other end is joined to the small intestine further downstream so that the digestive juices from the liver, gallbladder, duodenum and pancreas are able to be included in the digestion process.

Gastric bypass is a major surgical procedure with a risk of major complications and mortality (approx. 1%). It causes major changes in the digestive tract and is fundamentally irreversible. Click here for the risks involved with gastric bypass and see how they compare to those faced in LAP-BAND surgery.

Advantages of Gastric Bupass Surgery 

  • Rapid initial weight loss
  • Minimally invasive approach is possible
  • Longer experience in the U.S.
  • Higher total average weight loss reported than with the lap band system

Disadvantages of Gastric Bypass Surgery 

  • Cutting and stapling of stomach and bowel are required
  • More operative complications than with the lap band
  • Portion of digestive tract is bypassed, reducing absorption of essential nutrients
  • Medical complications due to nutritional deficiencies may occur
  • “Dumping Syndrome” can occur
  • Non-adjustable
  • Extremely difficult to reverse
  • Higher perioperative mortality rate than lap band adjustable gastric banding system

Risk of Gastric Bypass Surgery 

  • Mortality rate: 0.5%
  • Total complications: 23%
  • Major complications: 2%
  • Complications include:
    • Standard risks associated with major surgery
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Separation of stapled areas (major revisional surgery)
    • Leaks from staple lines (major revisional surgery)
    • Nutritional deficiencies

Cost of Gastric Bypass Surgery 

Generally speaking, both lap band and RYGBP procedures can be covered by insurance. Your medical coverage depends on the type of policy you have and the terms associated with that policy. Each individual insurance policy varies significantly, even when issued by the same company. Costs of lap band surgery or gastric bypass surgery will vary depending on the site where the surgery occurs (in-patient or out-patient), the type of bypass procedure (laparoscopic or open), and how long you are required to stay in the hospital.

Recovery After Gastric Bypass Surgery 

  • Hospital stay is usually 48 to 72 hours
  • Many patients return to normal activity within 2 to 3 weeks
  • Full surgical recovery usually occurs within about 3 weeks