Gastric bypass is just one type of several bariatric surgery procedures that has become a popular weight loss method to solve obesity issues in the United States, where 78 million adults were classified as obese. In fact, more than 13,000 patients underwent gastric bypass from 2009-2011 or 6.62% of all patients that underwent bariatric surgeries across the country. Despite the health risks involved, many people rely on its promise of successful weight loss, and just recently, improving Type 2 Diabetes symptoms.
Reserved originally for people who are extremely obese with a body mass index of at least 40, gastric bypass surgery works by pushing down food directly to the first segment of the small intestine called the duodenum, bypassing the main stomach. The procedures, risks, and effects may vary depending on the type of procedure. There are four common types of gastric bypass:
Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
It is an open or laparoscopic surgery that helps limit a person’s food and drink consumption because of the small pouch created on top of the stomach. The surgeon cuts the small intestine and connects it to this pouch so that food goes directly to the small intestine. With this type of procedure, one can only absorb minimal amount of calories as well as nutrients. In a review posted on the Annals of Surgery Website, surgeons concluded that Roux-en-Y gastric bypass offers less post-procedure complications compared to the laparoscopic approach.
Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding
This procedure involves placing a band with an inflatable silicone balloon in the upper part of the stomach and installing a port under the abdominal skin. The size of this inflatable balloon can be adjusted depending on a patient’s needs by removing or injecting saline through the port. A person who underwent such procedure can feel full immediately even with little amount of food. However, the absorption rate of calories and nutrients is the same. Weight loss result is not as significant as with Roux-en-Y gastric bypass but there is less risk for developing vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
VSG or Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy
In this laparoscopic procedure, the surgeon takes out a part of the stomach, and then forms the rest of it into a tube. Because it is narrowed, the stomach can only hold little amounts of food. The surgeon particularly extracts a part of the stomach the produces the hormone ghrelin, which is responsible for stimulating hunger.
Patients should be aware, however, that this method is irreversible and although it lessens the appetite, the small intestine still functions normally, therefore, absorbing nutrients and calories at the same rate preventing vitamin or mineral deficiencies. However, it may slow down weight loss.
Duodenal Switch (DS) with Biliopancreatic Diversion (BPD) or DS/BD
Duodenal switch is also a laparoscopic procedure in which the surgeon divides the small intestine and duodenum and attaches these respectively near the stomach and the large intestine to create a ‘common channel.’
Research suggests that DS/BD procedure delivered higher success determined by the significant improvements in patients with Type 2 Diabetes and hypertension. Side effects included bloating and loose stools.
Is Gastric Bypass Surgery the Answer?
Dr. Nicholas Stylopoulos of Boston Medical School states that the intestine becomes a major instrument for disposing glucose, leading to lowered blood sugar level. The molecule GLUT-1 is responsible for this effect.
The major function of GLUT-1 is to take off glucose from the circulation within the body and use it for metabolism. However, after gastric bypass, GLUT-1 seizes glucose and disposes it. the small intestine starts manufacturing GLUT-1. It naturally takes the glucose off the body’s circulation and keep it within the intestine for metabolism. After gastric bypass, GLUT-1 takes glucose off the circulation and disposes it, which baffles researchers up to now.
This is because of the molecule GLUT-1, which the small intestine starts producing after gastric bypass. This molecule causes the intestine to dispose glucose. In short, the intestine becomes hard at work after gastric bypass, since major functions in the stomach have been bypassed.
Although additional research and tests need to be conducted, gastric bypass surgery has become a major option for people Type 2 diabetes. Success stories can be read all over the Internet, which heightens Diabetics’ hope for continuous recovery. The medical community has high hopes as well, looking to approve gastric bypass as an official Diabetes treatment in the future, as soon as research is able to detail how after surgery, the small intestine can produce the molecule GLUT-1, which is normally present only in the small intestine of a fetus. Until such time, this not-so-glamorous surgical procedure remains a drastic approach in solving obesity and a just a promising cure for Type 2 diabetes. It is not yet official but it could be.