Gastric bypass surgery is an aggressive and serious surgery meant to cause significant weight loss. By dividing the stomach into two chambers and stapling off the larger pouch, the surgical procedure shrinks the stomach to the size of a walnut.
After the surgery, a person will only be able to eat between one and two ounces of food, as opposed to the stomach's normal capacity of 40 to 50 ounces.
What It's Good For
Gastric bypass surgery limits the body from absorbing calories by altering the positioning of the small intestine, thereby leading to rapid weight loss.
Who it works for: To qualify for gastric bypass surgery, candidates must have a body mass index (BMI) above 40. This is generally 80 pounds overweight for men and 100 pounds for women, though life-threatening conditions associated with obesity may qualify a patient for surgery even if they fall short of these guidelines. Gastric bypass surgery is only practical for individuals who develop healthy eating and exercise habits post-surgery.
Recommended age range: There is no age limit to getting gastric bypass surgery, but health risks increase after 65. Increasingly, the procedure is being performed on adolescents as young as 13.
When will I see results?: On average, weight falls 10 to 20 pounds per month in the initial year following surgery. On average 61% of excess weight is lost following surgery.
How long it lasts: The weight can be kept off if an exercise routine is rigidly maintained and a patient adheres to a healthful and portion-conscious diet. The procedure is irreversible, although damage can be done to the digestive system - and weight regained - by straying from the required diet and exercise plan.
Key benefits of gastric bypass: Within the first two years, gastric bypass surgery can help a patient shed more than half their desired weight. Weight loss can improve medical conditions caused by obesity, like asthma, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, and high cholesterol.
Who's Done It?
Gastric bypass surgery helped singer Carnie Wilson, the Today show's weatherman Al Roker, and First Lady of Rock Sharon Osbourne lose more than 100 pounds.
American Idol judge Randy Jackson talked to The Early Show in 2004 about his experience, seeking gastric bypass surgery when he learned that diabetes was threatening his life. An advocate for the weight loss procedure, Jackson went from 329 to 229 pounds, losing 12 inches and 5 shirt sizes. With a realistic outlook on the surgery, Jackson attributes his weight loss to the strict diet and exercise he stuck with after surgery. He has said of gastric bypass surgery: "It's a life choice because you change and alter your complete life when you do this."
Star Jones Reynolds, former co-host of The View, revealed the basis for her decision to undergo surgery in 2003 in a personal essay featured in the July 2007 issue of Glamour magazine. In the three years following the procedure, Reynolds lost 160 pounds off of her initially 307 pound frame. With similar sentiments as Jackson, Reynolds insists that the success of the procedure relies on the patient's ability to maintain the results. "The recovery doesn't end when you come out of anesthesia," she writes, continuing, "That's when the real work begins."