Contrary to popular conception, there is not just one, single option for gastric bypass surgery. There are actually three variations. These variations are known as the Roux en-Y Proximal, Roux en-Y Distal, and the Mini-gastric bypass, also known as the Loop Gastric Bypass. Understanding these surgeries and the gastric bypass complications from them, is essential.
The Roux en-Y methods involve reconstruction of the bowels so as to speed up the feelings of fullness, with the distal method shortening the bowels to an extent. The loop gastric bypass method is actually not in use today for bariatric surgery, but it is worth delving into if you’re interested in learning the full history of gastric bypass surgery.
Rather than the Y-shaped bowel reconstruction utilized by the other two alternative methods of gastric bypass surgery, the mini-gastric bypass reconstructs a loop of the small bowel. This method was first used in 1967, but has been more or less abandoned by bariatric surgeons since the 1970’s.
The advantages offered by this method are mainly that the construction of the area it reconstructs is much simpler than the Y shaped bowel. This means that the surgery itself is much easier and quicker, and that there is less chance of error. However, the reason that this method has been largely abandoned far outweighs its benefits: There are just too many complications.
Included among the complications, this approach allows bile as well as pancreatic enzymes from the small bowel to enter into the esophagus, causing inflammation and even ulceration in the stomach and the esophagus. Further complications: if a leak into the abdomen occurs, the consequences caused by these corrosive fluids can be quite severe. This is most common when the reconstruction is placed adjacent to the esophagus, and the risk can be reduced by placing the loop closer to the bottom of the stomach.
However, even though placing the loop lower can reduce risk, medical professionals have deemed the risk too high, nonetheless.
The operation is still in use, just not for bariatric surgery. Today you can still find thousands of patients who received a loop reconstruction after stomach cancer, ulcer surgery, or severe injury to the stomach. In other words, this method is only put into use when the patient’s life absolutely depends on it. Because of the complications involved with the loop method, and the fact that no licensed doctor is likely to perform the operation for gastric bypass reasons, we can only recommend the Roux en-Y methods.
This isn’t to say that the other methods of gastric bypass are completely devoid of any risk of complications. Of course, the complication rate for gastric bypass surgery has been lowered to 7% through the use laparoscopic procedural methods, but 7% doesn’t mean 0%. Laparoscopic gastric bypass has become much more popular.
Still, with traditional open incision methods, the complication rate was twice that, so we are definitely making progress in this field. It should also be noted that the mortality rate for laparoscopic surgery was shown at zero percent in a recent study, while the rate jumps to 0.6% with open procedures. If you are given the choice, we urge you to take the laparoscopic route, as it has been proven to be just plain safer.
Gastric bypass surgery should be considered an option only as a last resort. Chances are in favor of a patient receiving the operation and healing with no complications, however, you will have to make many lifestyle choices, and you will still need to be dedicated to staying in shape for the long term effects of the surgery to succeed. If you feel you have no other options for living a healthy life, however, then you should certainly look into this option, as it has saved more than a few lives.