Gastric bypass uses both a restrictive and a malabsorptive surgery technique. It restricts food intake and the amount of calories and nutrients the body absorbs. In addition to creating a smaller stomach pouch, the surgery changes the body's normal digestive process. As a result, food bypasses a large part of the stomach and most of the small intestine.

The gastric bypass procedure

Gastric bypass surgery can be performed through an open procedure or a laparoscopic (minimally invasive) procedure. Laparoscopic surgery is performed using small incisions—and usually means a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery, smaller scars, and less pain than open surgical procedures. Most surgeons prefer the laparoscopic approach.

During a gastric bypass procedure, both restrictive and malabsorptive surgery techniques are performed. The surgeon first creates a small stomach pouch and then attaches a section of the small intestine directly to the pouch. This allows food to bypass a portion of the small intestine, which absorbs calories and nutrients. Having a smaller stomach pouch causes you to feel full sooner and eat less food; bypassing a portion of the small intestine means your body absorbs fewer calories. Gastric bypass patients report an early sense of fullness and satisfaction that reduces the desire to eat.

One study found that following laparoscopic gastric bypass, patients were able to leave the hospital after 2 days and return to work after 21 days.18

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