What is GBP and what are the risks associated with it?

What is Gastric Bypass Surgery?

 According to Wikipedia, “Gastric bypass procedures (GBP) are any of a group of similar operations that first divides the stomach into a small upper pouch and a much larger lower "remnant" pouch and then re-arranges the small intestine to connect to both.” (Wikipedia, 2012)

Currently, GBP is reserved for those who have a Body Mass Index of 40 or higher (also referred to as morbidly obese). 

Example a Woman of a woman that would qualify for gastric bypass surgery based on her Body Mass Index:

Height: 5ft 5in

Weight: 250 lbs.

Body Mass Index (BMI): 41.6

There are a variety of online calculators to help you determine your BMI.  The web address for the Body Mass Index calculator used above is http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/, which is the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s website. 

In addition to being morbidly obese, other conditions factor in as to whether you would be considered a candidate for Gastric Bypass Surgery.  These include health related issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, etc.  Generally speaking, if reducing weight can significantly increase chances for lengthening one’s life, Gastric Bypass Surgery may be an option.

According to CBC News and a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the risk of death of those who have had gastric bypass surgery drops by 40 – 89 percent. (CBC News, 2010)

Risk of Gastric Bypass Procedures

The risks associated with GBP and Bariatric surgery reads very much like the back of a prescription bottle.  With this said, people who encounter complications with gastric bypass range between 1% and 16% of those who have the surgery.  While many of these are serious complications, most are not life threatening.  As noted above, having the gastric surgery can improve one’s chances of survival from morbid obesity and comorbid conditions by 40 – 89 percent. 

Cost of Gastric Bypass Surgery

The debate about cost reminds me very much of what came first riddles you here, such as “What came first, the chicken or the egg?”  Supporters of the surgery say that the gastric procedure costs greatly reduce the long term expenses of medical care associated with morbid obesity.  Opponents of the surgery say that this procedure should not be covered by medical care and that it should be considered cosmetic in nature.

What do I think about Gastric Bypass Surgery?

I would love to say that I definitely defend one side of this agreement over the other.  However, it’s difficult for me to make a decision.  Personally, I have battled with weight my entire life.  I have tried more diet plans than I care to count and yo-yoed up and down with eating habits. 

When I first heard about Gastric Bypass Surgery, I was excited.  Then reality set in.  I started to think about the logistics of removing parts of your stomach, re-attaching stomachs to colons, etc. and thought at 30 years old what can I expect to happen physiologically that I may not anticipate now?  Illness and cancer were two variables that gave me a sense of wariness over the thought of gastric bypass surgery. 

I have known many people who have become deathly ill and lost a significant amount of weight.  If that same person had Gastric Bypass Surgery, would their chances of serious health issues be heightened?

Stomach cancer, while it may not be common, could again raise the chances of increased risk.  With the entire stomach intact, I would think there would be more to work with in this type of situation. 

In the end, I thought it would be prudent to work toward controlling my weight with diet and exercise while I am younger.  Later in life and if the situation warrants, I believe that considering Gastric Bypass Surgery over other serious health issues would be logical. 

For those of you who have had this surgery in their 30’s or those of you who have an interesting take on the subject; I would love to hear what you have to say about Gastric Bypass Surgery.