Gastric Bypass

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Deciding whether or not to have gastric bypass surgery is difficult. Potential patients and their doctors must balance risk and reward. Research from The Michigan Bariatric Surgery Collaborative says that one half of one percent of bariatric(weight loss) surgery patients suffer life-threatening complications.The numbers used to be worse, but techniques have improved and surgeons are more practiced now. Of course, overweight itself is a killer.

Properly selected patients who have gastric bypass surgery do tend to lose a lot of weight. They lose, on average, 67% of excess body weight, according to Canadian researcher Dr. Nicolas Christou of McGill University, and they tend to keep much of the weight off. He found that after bariatric surgery breast cancer rates are reduced by 85%. Colon cancer is reduced 70%. There are substantial reductions in pancreatic cancer, in skin cancer, and in non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The average reduction in cancer risk is 80% over the next 5 years. These are remarkable claims, but Dr. Christou's research confirms the results of two earlier studies.

Bariatric surgery also helps with back pain, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression. The University of Rochester Medical School report on the Roux-en-Y, a type of gastric bypass, says 96% of these complaints are improved or resolved.

Losing weight can also prevent or lessen the pain of angina. It can lessen the risk of sudden death from heart attack or stroke. It can prevent or improve type two diabetes. Breathing also improves with weight loss and so does mobility.

There are trade-offs for these benefits, according to the University of Rochester. With the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, patients who eat too much, especially too much sugar, may suffer dumping syndrome. It's not dangerous, but it's very uncomfortable, as victims may suffer nausea, weakness and related complaints. It's also possible for the surgery to become less effective over time. It's rare, but sometimes patients suffer a leak where the reduced stomach is reconnected to the shortened intestine, and this is serious. After the surgery body scans may be harder to read. Up to 20% of patients may need surgery for problems like hernia after their initial operation. Up to 30% may get gallstones, although this possibility is lessened by those who take bile salts for 6 months after their operation. Patients are advised to take vitamins and minerals after surgery, to deal with the risk of deficiency diseases.

The way to reduce the chance of complications is to follow the surgeon's advice carefully. It is also important to stay in touch with health care providers, for continuing check-ups and advice.

Bariatric surgery is generally only done on the morbidly obese, people who are extremely heavy and/or have serious weight-related medical conditions. Most people who have a gastric bypass are at least 100 pounds overweight. There are dangers connected with this surgery, as there are with any surgery. But for certain people with the dangerous medical condition that is morbid obesity, having a gastric bypass may actually be the safest choice.,0,4942976.story

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