Gastric surgery is performed to reduce the size and increase the efficiency of the digestive system. A gastric bypass is a common surgery, which significantly reduces the size of the stomach, usually leading to weight loss. Other operations may reduce the intestines’ ability to absorb nutrients. Combinations of these two procedures are also common.
What is it?
Gastric surgery is often performed on obese patients who have difficulty losing weight through adjustments in diet and exercise. Gastric surgery should not be a patient’s first choice and is not a quick fix for weight loss. During this procedure, doctors use staples to make the patient’s stomach smaller. This gives the patient the feeling of fullness sooner than they would without gastric surgery. Additionally, the doctor may connect part of the patient’s small intestine to the stomach, so the patient absorbs fewer calories.
What should I do to prepare?
When a patient has gastric surgery, it is important that he or she follows the eating and drinking guidelines set by their doctor to avoid complications with anesthesia. The patient should speak with his or her doctor regarding current medications to develop appropriate plans. Certain medications like NSAIDS, aspirin, and vitamin supplements should not be taken during the week prior to the surgery as should smoking. Patients may be advised to begin physical exercises. Patients should expect to have comprehensive diagnostic tests completed before the procedure. Furthermore, patients should make transportation accommodations after surgery, since anesthesia impairs the ability to drive.
What happens during the process?
There are two options for gastric surgery. There is an open procedure, by which doctors access the site through a large opening to reach the stomach and other organs. The other option is laparoscopy. Laparoscopy is performed with a small camera, called a laparoscope, which allows the doctor to see inside a patient’s belly without unnecessary surgical incisions. With the added sight, the doctor can operate using minor incisions and lowering the risk of infections. Patients will have smaller scars and a shorter hospital visit.
What are the risks and potential complications?
Gastric surgery comes with associated risks that include, but are not limited to, inflammation of the stomach lining, heartburn, injured organs, poor nutrition, vomiting, exterior scarring, allergic reactions to medications and anesthesia, and infection.
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