Flip Your Script

John J. Schessler, Wellness Coach/Personal Trainer

Gastric Bypass: Easy way out?

There’s a lot of discussion about weight loss surgeries these days and the debate over whether the individuals receiving these types of procedures actually need it or if it’s taking the so-called ‘easy way out’. Of course, there are people who truly need gastric bypass for medical and life saving reasons but concerning weight loss in general, this form of drastic weight loss for cosmetic reasons is becoming more seductive and enticing to the average person.

What is gastric bypass surgery?

Gastric bypass (GP) is one of the four types of bariatric surgeries providing much greater weight loss than that of the gastric sleeve (sleeve gastronomy) procedure. GP helps reduce excess body weight by an average of 75% over the course of a year. It can also help resolve Type 2 diabetes in 90% of diagnosed cases. Obviously, you have to pass certain medical tests and be medically cleared to qualify to be a candidate for surgery.

During the actual surgery, a surgeon basically shrinks down the size of your stomach to a smaller area that holds the food you eat. The small intestine is connected by a tube to a small hole in your stomach that holds your food, bypassing the larger section of the stomach. The popularity of the surgery has diminished slightly because of elevated complications such as small bowel obstruction, hernias and ulcers where the stomach connects with the small bowel.

GP Benefits

GP promotes excessive weight loss by restricting the amount of food that enters your stomach. It also alters the way calories and nutrients are absorbed through the large and small intestines from the food ingested. Studies have and continue to shown that hormone levels do become affected and the feelings of hunger and the need to eat are usually suppressed somewhat due to the size of the shrunken stomach. There are also some bonuses aside from the obvious ones, such as:

  • Fewer cravings for foods high in fat and sugar.
  • Less of preference for foods high in sugar and carbohydrates.

Patients have reporting that some foods have tasted sour or too salty where before the GP they enjoyed the same foods. Gastric emptying or ‘Dumping Syndrome’ is often a common report for patients as well. This is where food passes through the small intestine faster than normal when eating meals that are high in carbohydrates and sugar. Some side effects common with dumping syndrome are:

  • Cramping
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

So, why all the controversy around this?

Let’s break this down as to understand all areas of what’s involved with Gastric Bypass surgery. Having GP performed will mean a lifetime of adhering to a specific diet and decreasing the amount of calories per day for yourself. For some people, this may not be a big deal however, for some, there usually is some adjustment period that takes place. Think about that for a moment. Your stomach went from normal sized to the size of a walnut, I’d be very shocked if ANYONE didn’t have some sort of adjustment period post-surgery.

Also, the side effects. First being leakage. If a patient experiences this a few days after surgery, they must be opened back up to fix the leak. If the leakage isn’t fixed in time or at all, it can lead to sepsis, which is where the body damages it’s own tissue in response to infection. If sepsis isn’t caught and treated in time, it can lead to septic shock and eventually death. Now, that’s an extreme case and most people may experience some of that, going through that entire chain of events in rare. Some patients often become malnourished because of the strict diet they are placed on post-surgery and depending on the surgeon, their age and disease is going to factor into your post-operative care. Also, the reversal rate of this surgery is astounding. Nearly 61% of GP patients gain the weight they initially lost back within the first year, so what really was the surgery for in the first place?

Then of course there is the financial aspect of things. If you have great insurance then awesome but the majority of Americans have so-so insurance plans where they may not qualify for full coverage or even much coverage unless this surgery qualifies as a medical procedure. To dumb this down, you will be paying for this surgery LONG after it has been performed. Not to sound like a parent or anything but, you just better make sure that this is the road you want to travel down because this isn’t something that once you get used to it will even out, this is a lifelong decision and journey.

So, is it a quick fix?

In short, no. Any surgery like this is not the gateway to great health and to cosmetically change your appearance this is a pretty drastic way to do it, any good physician, personal trainer or nutritionist will tell you that. What they will tell you right from the get-go is to make changes in your diet, exercise more and to do it the right way, without surgery. I understand that that is not the case for some people and they have no other option other than these types of bariatric surgeries. The people I’m talking to in the context of this post is people who are able to put in the hard work and dedicate themselves to turning their lives around, lose the weight and feel better. Keep in mind, we only see the benefits most of the time concerning these types of surgeries but there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that we don’t see and those behind-the-scenes moments are the ones that mostly make or break the persons willpower in having this done.

This isn’t the fairytale that you may think it is which it why I’m telling you to consider the options, weigh the positives and negatives and discuss with your physicians the best route to take.

John J. Schessler is a Pittsburgh-based Wellness Coach, Personal Trainer specializing in Orthopedics & Sports Injury. He is also an Actor, Writer, Men’s Life Coach, owner of ‘Flip Your Script Fitness’ and host of the podcast, “ManAlive!”, available on Apple Podcasts. Like what you see? Got ideas for future posts or just want to say hi?! Email me at j.schessler@pghwellnesscoach.com

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