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Do You Have to Be Obese to Get Gastric Bypass?

Posted on 06 Jan, 2022
Do You Have to Be Obese to Get Gastric Bypass?

Do you have to be obese to get gastric bypass surgery? Not necessarily - however, weight loss surgery isn’t for everyone. So, if you’re questioning whether you’re a candidate for bypass surgery, it’s worth taking a closer look at the criteria that need to be met to qualify for gastric bypass surgery.

Dr Ken Wong is Central Coast Surgery’s leading bariatric surgeon. An experienced surgeon who has performed thousands of weight loss procedures, Dr Ken Wong is focused on providing minimally invasive weight loss options that change the lives of his patients for the better.

In this article, we’ll clarify what gastric bypass surgery involves, why gastric bypass surgery is sometimes necessary, and who is well suited to gastric bypass surgery.

what is gastric bypass surgery

What is Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery is a major weight loss surgery where the top part of your stomach is stapled, separating it from the lower section of your stomach. A new opening is then created from the top stomach pouch and connected directly to the small intestine, therefore bypassing the main part of your stomach and some of your small intestine.

Often referred to as stomach bypass surgery or roux-en-y gastric bypass surgery, this form of weight loss surgery is effective because it makes the stomach smaller and changes the way that food is absorbed, making weight loss easier to achieve. Patients who have has a gastric bypass are far less likely to overeat because only small amounts of food can be consumed at a time.

Studies have shown that it’s possible to lose up to 90% of your excess weight after gastric bypass surgery, with most patients (75%) losing 75-80% of their excess body weight after surgery.

The surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and patients usually stay in hospital for up to a week afterwards. Most people can return to their normal activities 3-5 weeks after surgery is complete.

Why Consider Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery can help patients who are morbidly obese lose the excess weight that limits them physically and mentally. Significant weight loss can add years to your life and improve your health dramatically. Research shows that losing as little as 5% of your total body weight can have considerable health benefits, including improved:

  • Heart health
  • Sleep
  • Mobility
  • Energy
  • Joint health
  • Stroke risk factors
  • Cancer risk factors

In addition to improved physical health, mental health has also been shown to improve after weight loss, especially if it’s been something that a patient has struggled with for years or even decades. Improved self-esteem leads to being less self-conscious in public, more assertive in the workplace, more comfortable socially and having a huge sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

Do You Have to Be Obese to Get Gastric Bypass

Do You Have to Be Obese to Get Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Obesity is a global epidemic affecting over 300 million people according to the World Health Organisation. Obesity is a complicated condition that is concerning for health professionals because having a BMI of over 40 is associated with lower quality of life and poor mental health outcomes. With rates of obesity tripling since 1975, for some people, the best course of action is weight loss surgery.

There are a number of factors that determine the right candidates for gastric bypass surgery. For most patients, this primary factor is obesity. However, there are other factors that make someone a candidate for a gastric bypass. 

Gastric bypass surgery is a major surgery that should only be considered by patients who are:

1. Morbidly obese with a BMI over 40

If you have had a BMI of over 40 for at least five years, or if your BMI is over 35 and you are at high risk of developing life-threatening health problems, you may be a good candidate for weight loss surgery.

Although a BMI score doesn’t give an exact body fat percentage, it’s still a useful tool to gauge overall health and assess if people are good candidates for gastric bypass surgery. A BMI of 40 translates to being overweight by about 45kg.

2. At High Risk of Developing Related Health Conditions

People who are obese are at an increased risk of developing a range of serious health conditions that include (but are not limited to): high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, various cancers, gallbladder disease as well as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

Choosing weight loss surgery can be a life-saving decision, allowing people who were once obese to reclaim their lives and go on to fulfil their potential.

3. Unable to Lose Weight with Diet and Exercise

If you’ve been unsuccessful with previous attempts to lose weight solely by changing your diet and exercise, gastric bypass surgery might be the simplest way to achieve your goals and start living a healthy lifestyle. The risks associated with living with obesity far outweigh the risks of surgery to help you correct the condition.

However, weight loss surgery is not an alternative to the conventional weight loss methods of diet and exercise. Gastric bypass surgery is the last resort when traditional methods fail. The goal of any weight loss surgery is long-term, sustainable weight loss and this goes hand-in-hand with behavioural changes and a commitment to living a healthier lifestyle.
Candidates for Gastric Bypass Surgery

Who Should Not Consider Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Obesity is a global health crisis and weight loss surgery is a recognised treatment that can help sufferers lose weight, reverse obesity-related conditions and generally improve quality of life. However, there are a few factors that contribute to not being the right candidate for gastric bypass surgery.

When a person presents for assessment for gastric bypass surgery, a multi-disciplinary assessment will then take place, giving consideration to a patients psychological, surgical, dietetic, and medical background. Therefore, a good candidate for bariatric surgery must be both physically and psychologically fit to proceed. If a candidate presents with poor physical or psychological fitness, the surgery may be too risky.

In general, gastric bypass surgery is not appropriate for candidates who:

  • Are younger than 18 years
  • Have a BMI under 35
  • Consume alcohol to excess
  • Are currently pregnant
  • Have another condition that could affect weight gain or loss
  • Are unwilling or unable to make substantial lifestyle changes post-surgery

Choosing the Best Weight Loss Clinic

In conclusion – it is clear that gastric bypass surgery is indeed only suitable if you’re obese or suffering from a condition caused by excessive weight gain. A gastric bypass is a last resort for weight loss, rather than the first step.

If you are considering a gastric bypass procedure, surgery is a monumental step; so, selecting the best possible multi-disciplinary weight loss team is key to successful postoperative outcomes, particularly when it comes to life-changing gastric bypass surgery.

At Central Coast Surgery, we work with each of our patients from their very first consultation, right up until they achieve their post-surgical health and weight-loss goals. Our team consists of our principal surgeon, Dr Ken Wong, as well as dieticians, weight loss doctors, and exercise physiologists, who are all there to support you on your journey to better health.

Gastric bypass surgery isn’t a quick fix, it’s a solution that requires long-term commitment and consistent effort. It could be the best way for you to turn your life around. To see if you, or someone you love, are good candidates for gastric bypass surgery give our team a call on (02) 4323 7000 today. Dr Wong and the team at Central Coast Weight Loss Surgery happily treat patients from the Central Coast, Newcastle, and Sydney.

Gastric Sleeve Side Effects

Posted on 25 Oct, 2021
Gastric Sleeve Side Effects

If you’re considering gastric sleeve surgery, then you’re probably also wondering about the possible side effects after gastric sleeve surgery.

Dr Ken Wong is a skilled surgeon who has performed thousands of successful weight loss surgeries and has a passionate team of specialist staff at Central Coast Surgery to support you along your weight loss journey.

Although gastric sleeve surgery is relatively safe, as with all medical procedures, there are some possible side effects of stomach sleeve surgery. This article will discuss the risks and rewards of undergoing this procedure and everything you need to know about the side effects of stomach sleeve surgery.

How Gastric Sleeve Surgery Works

Gastric sleeve surgery is a weight loss procedure that permanently reduces the size of your stomach by two thirds. The surgery is performed via a keyhole incision and is also known as a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. The surgeon inserts instruments through the small incision in your abdomen to remove a large portion of the stomach, leaving behind a small stomach pouch or ‘sleeve’. The advantage of keyhole surgery is that there is reduced scarring and post-surgical recovery needed.

After the partial removal of your stomach, the remainder is closed with staples. Undergoing this procedure is permanent and will limit the amount of food you can eat as your stomach is smaller, and you will feel full quicker. Not only will eating less help you lose weight, but by removing most of the stomach, there is a significant reduction in the Grehlin hormone, which is responsible for stimulating hunger. You will therefore feel more satiated between meals.

Risks and Rewards of the Procedure

Morbid obesity can negatively affect a person’s physical and mental health leading to overall lower quality of life. Although there are risks associated with gastric sleeve surgery, the risks of living with morbid obesity are greater as patients with this condition are at high risk of developing life-threatening health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, sleep apnoea, high cholesterol, and heart disease. People with a BMI over 35 are also at an increased risk of developing depression, anxiety and experiencing lower social acceptance and isolation.

Gastric Sleeve Side Effects: After Surgery

The first week after surgery is typically the most critical time to monitor for possible complications, some of which could be minor and some more concerning. Potential side effects might include:

 1. Bleeding

Bleeding is one of the most common side effects after gastric sleeve surgery and usually comes from the staple line closure where the stomach has been divided. Symptoms could include dizziness, shortness of breath, a rapid pulse, or a pale appearance.

2. Stomach Leaks

Stomach leaks are rare after gastric sleeve surgery and occur when a hole develops along the staple line, allowing stomach juices to escape into the abdominal cavity. This can cause an infection and eventually lead to sepsis or septic shock. Symptoms include a rapid heart rate, dizziness, shortness of breath, fever, abdominal pain, left chest or shoulder pain, or abdominal distention. Diagnosis of a stomach leak can be challenging and requires further surgery to rectify.

3. Blood Clots

Obese patients are at a higher risk of developing blood clots than people in the normal weight range, but this is still a rare side effect after gastric sleeve surgery. The best treatment for a blood clot is prevention by taking blood thinners before surgery and early mobilisation within two hours after surgery to prevent the clots from forming.

4. Abdominal Abscesses

Abscesses can occur when pus collects in an area of the abdomen and can be diagnosed with a CT Scan. An abscess forming as a side effect of stomach sleeve surgery is usually caused by some of the contents of the intestines leaking into the abdominal space and can be treated by draining away the pus.

5. Would Infection

The advantage of laparoscopic surgery (i.e. surgery done through a keyhole incision) is that there is less risk of wound infection forming as a result of gastric sleeve surgery because the wound itself is so small. Some redness is expected; however, if the incision becomes excessively red and warm with a thickening of the skin and possibly some discharge, it is possibly infected. This can usually be successfully treated with antibiotics.

Gastric Sleeve Side Effects: Long Term

Long-term side effects of gastric sleeve surgery may include:

1. Stenoses

Stenosis is a narrowing of the stomach caused by scars along the staple line contracting, making the stomach excessively narrow and creating problems digesting food. This can lead to stomach obstructions but can be treated by ‘stretching’ the narrow area with a surgically inserted balloon to widen the channel. 

2. Excess Skin

Sagging skin is not so much one of the side effects of stomach sleeve surgery as a result of obesity. The skin stretches with excess weight, and it is common to be left with excess skin after any weight loss surgery. This can be rectified with a panniculectomy, which is a surgery to remove the excess skin.

3. Vitamin Deficiencies

Eating fewer calories means fewer opportunities to take in nutrients. Therefore, you have to make sure you’re eating the right foods to alleviate any side effects after gastric sleeve surgery. In some cases, whole foods may not be enough to gain sufficient nutrition and you may need to supplement your diet with vitamins, minerals, or other medications to maintain optimal health.

4. Regaining Weight

Immediately after surgery, the remaining stomach pouch is only big enough to hold one cup of food; however, over time, it will stretch if the patient begins to eat larger meals. If this happens, weight loss may come to an end, or you may even start to gain weight. While surgery is a tool to help with weight loss, it has to be accompanied by a permanent change of habits to maintain weight loss results and avoid some of the side effects of stomach sleeve surgery listed above.

How to Avoid Side Effects After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Prevention is better than a cure, as they say, so the best way to avoid gastric sleeve side effects after surgery is good preparation before surgery. At Central Coast Surgery, our team will do everything possible to ensure you’re well prepared before your procedure. You will consult with your surgeon, a dietician, and a psychologist to ensure you’re in good mental and physical health and an appropriate candidate for weight loss surgery.

Depending on your medical history and personal circumstances, we will perform a routine blood test to establish your general health and may also utilise other tests like a chest X-ray or ECG if necessary. We also advise that you start losing weight, exercising, and changing your diet to prepare for surgery. If you smoke, we would advise you to quit before your procedure. These changes will help you to be successful in the future of your weight loss journey and will help alleviate any possible side effects after gastric sleeve surgery.

Choosing a Good Surgeon

Any type of weight loss surgery is a serious undertaking, and selecting the best possible surgeon is key to a successful outcome and avoiding as many side effects of stomach sleeve surgery as possible.

Dr Ken Wong is an experienced bariatric surgeon and an expert in the field of weight loss surgery. Dr Wong performs hundreds of weight loss surgeries a year including gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, and gastric banding surgery. All surgeries are minimally invasive and performed via keyhole to allow patients a faster recovery time. All surgery take place in private hospital facilities where you will be taken care of by our team of dedicated staff.

At Central Coast Surgery, we firmly believe that pre and post-operative care is imperative to long-term weight loss. We happily invest time and energy to educate and guide our patients through these phases. With a highly-skilled, multidisciplinary team to support you on your journey to a healthier life, we're not just here to provide surgical options, but we're here to help you successfully lose weight and keep it off.

So, if you’re considering gastric sleeve surgery in Newcastle, please get in touch with Dr Wong and the team at Central Coast Surgery today. As a specialist team, we provide patients with extraordinary results and excellent care on their journey to health. Call us on 02 4323 7000 for more information or to book your initial consultation.