Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery is one of the lesser known – yet most effective – types of bariatric surgery available for severely overweight people. It ranks near the top of the list when it comes to how much weight patients lose – and keep off – afterward.

Patients have two options when it comes Roux-en-Y surgery: open and laparoscopic. Most surgeons and their patients prefer the laparoscopic option, thanks to its minimally invasive incisions. During surgery, surgeons make small cuts in the abdomen that allow for access to the intestines. 

Some patients, due to their weight or medical history, will require open an open procedure. With open Roux-en-Y, the surgeon cuts a large incision and decreases the stomach size with stomach stapling or gastric band. The stomach is then connected to the middle part of the small intestine – known as the jejunum. This technique allows the food to bypass the rest of the stomach and duodenum, the upper portion of the intestine.

Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Procedure
Credit: Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Expected Hospital Stay

Patients will stay in the hospital for two to three days for the laparoscopic procedure; a four to six-day stay is required for an open procedure. Patients can then return to normal activities within three to five weeks. 

See How Roux-en-Y Works

Advantages and Disadvantages

Along with its success rate, Roux-en-Y allows patients to enjoy a wide variety of foods, albeit in very small quantities. The surgery also dramatically reduces the effects of sleep apnea and diabetes.

However, some patients develop "dumping," a syndrome that occurs when food passes quickly through the stomach and intestines. This sometimes results in nausea, diarrhea and weakness after a meal. These symptoms normally happen when the patient consumes high-calorie and high-sugar foods.

Expected Weight Loss

Roux-en-Y patients can expect to lose up to 80 percent of the excess body weight, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Total weight loss largely depends on how well a patient sticks a post-surgery diet.

Most weight loss with this type of bariatric surgery happens within eight months. After that, the patient's body weight will stabilize as long as he sticks to the prescribed regimen. Studies show that 96 percent of Roux-en-Y patients will only gain back 10-13 percent of their pre-surgery wait.

Bariatric surgeons recommend that patients also incorporate some sort of physical fitness into their lifestyles after they've healed from the procedure. Doctors will advise on what exercises are most appropriate.

Deciding If It's Right For You

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery is recommended for people with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40, or for patients with a BMI of 35 or higher who also suffer from illnesses like diabetes, sleep apnea or cardiovascular disease.

Good candidates for the procedure are patients who are between 18 and 65 who have no problems with alcohol or depression.

The procedure is not reversible, so it's important to discuss Roux-en-Y with your doctor and an experienced bariatric surgeon. These professionals will be able to accurately determine if this sort of procedure is right for you.