About a week ago I got the chance to work in Fluoroscopy as a part of my clinical studies for Medical Imaging. I was able to stand behind the Radiologist and watch as he took a look at the gastrointestinal tract of different patients and to see if there were any leakages or blockages or any other medical issues. I was able to prepare the contrast for fluoroscopy and assist in the taking of images as well the removal of the nasogastric tube while patients were conscious. I was surprised to see that the majority of people that were in for Fluoroscopy were patients that had a gastric bypass, roux en-y, or lap band that went wrong. It made me take pause, because a year ago I could have been a candidate for this procedure and had considered it because of my size. But I changed my mind because I was unsure of the safety of this procedure. Seeing all these patients in Fluoro, caused me to look deeper into Gastric Bypass and the issues that many are having due to the quick and “easy” way to bypass difficulties in weight loss. If you are planning or thinking about this procedure, you may want to read this blog. By no means am I a doctor, nor do I give medical advice, however I am presenting information that I have researched first hand. Please do not consider my blog as the place for medical advice. This is only my opinion and it is up to you as the reader to go further in research and consult with your physician concerning what is best for you regarding your health. Also please understand that this is NOT intended to cause fear of surgery. I am writing this article only to speak of my research, experiences, and to make sure you the reader are informed of what gastric bypass entails.

What is Gastric Bypass?

Gastric bypass surgery is a procedure in which surgeons make the stomach smaller (about 1/3 the original size of the stomach) so that recipients of this procedure can feel fuller quicker, thus eating less , absorbing less calories, and losing weight. One of the most common procedures is a Roux-en-Y (After the French physician Roux) in which the small stomach pouch is connected to the middle portion of the small intestine(jejunum) to “bypass” the rest of the stomach. The rest of the stomach is still connected to the upper portion of the small intestine (duodenum).

For a clear explanation and video on Gastric Bypass look here.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of Gastric Bypass is that if you are morbidly obese and have health complications due to weight, you are able to lose pounds at a rapid rate. For some, it gives them a little push to eat healthier as well as exercise to build a healthier life for themselves. There are many that have tried other options such as working with dietitians, exercise, therapy, and even staying in weight loss clinics with no success. The option of gastric bypass is excellent for them because they have tried all options and need to go the surgical route.

What are the complications?

My main concern with this procedure is the complications that I have seen all this week during my week in Fluoroscopy. At times, you can increase complications in addition the existing ones prior to surgery. The following are listed complications from WebMD:

  • An iron and vitamin B12 deficiency occurs more than 30% of the time. About 50% of those with an iron deficiency develop anemia.
  • The connection between the stomach and the intestines narrows (stomal stenosis) 5% to 15% of the time, leading to nausea and vomiting after eating.
  • Ulcers develop 5% to 15% of the time.
  • The staples may pull loose.
  • Hernia may develop.
  • The bypassed stomach may enlarge, resulting in hiccups and bloating.

The complications I saw face to face with these patients included malnutrition, gaining a large percentage of the weight back a few years after receiving the surgery, and hypoglycemia which may result in a reversal of gastric bypass that may be minimally successful.

How have I been affected by this experience?

By meeting the patients from gastric bypass surgery (pre-op, post-op, and reversals) it has shown me there is truly NO easy way to bypass the hardships of losing weight, not even surgery. This experience just further strengthened my belief that weight is connected not only behavioral changes but emotional changes as well.

I must admit, watching the procedures that the patients have to go through, in particular post-op, it caused me to really look deeper into this procedure and honestly caused me to see why I would not want this type of procedure done. Others may see this a life-saver for them.

I have witnessed those who have received the procedure and did not make significant changes to their diet or exercise routine. They continue to eat a lot of junk food, fast food, and stopped exercising shortly after. I have seen people lose a massive amount of weight, and then gain a great portion back because of returning to these behaviors and not dealing with the emotions and habits that have been embedded in their thoughts and consciousness. It further caused me to see how dealing with my emotions and changing my behaviors has been the best alternative for me in regards to losing the weight.

I must go on record to say that for some it may be necessary for them to have this medical procedure to be performed due to other options not being successful. My hope for most is that they will truly look at all options, such as therapy, health coaching, personal training, register dietician, etc. before making the decision to try this option. Also be sure to consult with your physician about all options to try and if you are truly the best candidate for this procedure. Remember, this is your body and it is your duty to do the best for it regardless of the thoughts and opinions of others.

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