Bariatric surgery is becoming more and more common these days and gastric bypass is considered the gold standard for bariatric surgery. In this procedure, the stomach is stapled to form a small pouch that limits the amount of food a person can eat. Then part of the small intestine is bypassed, which prevents the person from absorbing all of the fat and calories that he eats. Gastric bypass surgery results in fairly rapid weight loss; three to five pounds per week is typical, according to bariatric surgeon Dirk Rodriguez, although some patients lose even more in the early days after their surgeries.
Some patients do not lose all the weight they’d like to lose, however. And some lose weight initially but later gain some or all of the weight back.
According to Dr. Charles Callery, a bariatric surgeon in San Diego, California, his patients lose an average of 80 percent of their excess weight in the first two years after their surgeries. After five years, though, patients are only down by 65 percent, having gained 15 percent of their excess weight back. For instance, if a patient’s ideal weight was 150 pounds and he weighed 250 pounds at the time of his surgery, after two years he would weigh 170 pounds. After five years, he would weigh 185 pounds. The patient would still be somewhat overweight, but much less so than before surgery.
A study published in the April 2000 issue of the Annals of Surgery looked at morbidly obese patients (those with a BMI of 40 to 49) and super obese patients (those with a BMI of 50 or above). This study found that, 5.5 years after surgery, 93 percent of the morbidly obese patients had a BMI of less than 35. This indicates that they may have been overweight still, but they were no longer obese. The same study found that the super obese patients were less likely to have a BMI of less than 35, with 43 percent having a BMI of 35 or above 5.5 years after their operations. This tells us that heavier patients are less likely to experience success at losing weight and keeping weight off after gastric bypass surgery, though the majority of all patients do lose enough weight that they are no longer considered obese.
Resolution of Comorbidities
When considering the successfulness of gastric bypass surgery, there is more to look at than just weight. Morbidly obese people often suffer from a number of weight-related health problems, known as comorbidities. Examples include diabetes, sleep apnea and high blood pressure (hypertension). These conditions often improve or even go away altogether after gastric bypass surgery. For instance, Dr. Callery reports that nearly all patients with hypertension experience improvement and that about half of those patients no longer have high blood pressure at all. A patient that is still technically considered overweight might still consider himself a success story if he no longer has to inject himself with insulin every day or sleep with a CPAP machine on every night.
Annals of Surgery. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1421028/. Late Outcome of Isolated Gastric Bypass.
Thinner Times. http://www.thinnertimes.com/weight-loss-surgery/gastric-bypass/gastric-bypass-outcomes.html. Gastric Bypass Outcomes.
Thinner Times. http://www.thinnertimes.com/weight-loss-surgery/gastric-bypass/gastric-bypass-expectations.html. Gastric Bypass Expectations.