Is Gastric Bypass Surgery Reversible?
Over the last 60 years, gastric bypass has been used safely and effectively to provide hope for those who are trying to reach their weight loss goals. Gastric bypass is one of the most effective forms of weight loss surgery, with patients often losing up to 80% of excess weight. For over half a century, bariatric specialists have practiced surgical techniques to improve the safety and efficacy of this life-changing procedure.
As the search continues for options on how best to address the obesity epidemic, those who have had bariatric surgery and experienced success or who have severe complications may decide to “undo” their bariatric surgery. Before you decide, you’ll want to ask: is gastric bypass surgery reversible in your case?
Quick Answer: Is Gastric Bypass Surgery Reversible?
Yes, gastric bypass surgery can be reversed but will require an additional operation, which can be more complex than the original procedure. Your anatomy won’t be the same, but surgeons will do their best to restore normal function.
It’s important to speak with a qualified bariatric specialist before making a decision as big as reversing gastric bypass surgery.
Factors That Determine Whether a Gastric Bypass is Reversible
Gastric bypass reversal will require another major surgery and should not be taken lightly. For your safety and the effectiveness of the reversal, there are factors you and your surgeon need to consider to determine whether gastric bypass revision is right for you.
- Time since surgery: In general, it’s easier to reverse a gastric bypass surgery sooner after surgery than later. Over time, scar tissue and adhesions can develop and make surgery more difficult.
- Current health: If your overall quality of health is poor, major surgery may not be advisable. Outcomes for those in already poor health may be worse compared to a healthy person.
- Progress you’ve made: Bariatric surgery results in significant weight loss and improvements in other health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. If you’ve lost weight and have major improvements in other areas of your health, it may not be the best choice to reverse a surgery that’s brought so much benefit.
You shouldn’t decide to reverse a gastric bypass surgery alone and without considering all of the consequences. If you’re suffering from side effects from bariatric surgery, there may be other options besides reversing the procedure.
Qualifying for Gastric Bypass Reversal
Gastric bypass reversal isn’t for everyone and should be reserved for patients who need it for medical reasons. Here are some of the most common medical reasons for patients to receive gastric bypass reversal surgery.
- Severe malnutrition: A component of gastric bypass surgery is the malabsorption of nutrients. This helps you lose weight quickly but also means you won’t absorb nutrients as well. In some cases, this can be severe, leading to conditions like anemia, osteoporosis, and vitamin (B, A, D, E, K) deficiency. Vitamin deficiencies can usually be overcome through adherence to a balanced diet and the addition of supplements.
- Severe dumping syndrome: Foods high in sugar or fat can move from your stomach to your small intestines too quickly after gastric bypass surgery. When this happens, people can develop nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, cramping, and diarrhea routinely after eating. Dumping syndrome can be very challenging for patients, affecting their quality of life.
- Low blood sugar after meals: The medical terminology for this is postprandial hypoglycemia. When people eat a large amount of carbohydrates, the pancreas releases a proportional amount of insulin to help control blood sugar. Gastric bypass can alter how some hormones, like insulin, are released. Usually, these hormonal changes benefit patients, but there are cases where they may be detrimental. Low blood sugar can cause weakness, dizziness, confusion, and tremors.
- Excessive weight loss: This may raise some eyebrows, but yes, you can lose too much weight! Sometimes, this can lead to patients needing to receive additional calories through a feeding tube or intravenously. This is often reserved for those whose gastrointestinal tract has stopped working.
There are more medical complications that could result in a gastric bypass surgery reversal. The decision will need to be carefully made between the patient and their surgeon, including a discussion on additional surgery risks.
How Safe is Gastric Bypass Reversal?
Gastric bypass reversal surgery is safe, so long as you choose a surgeon and team experienced in the procedure. Those who have a history of ulcers, DVT, or other conditions may have worse short- and long-term complications from a gastric bypass reversal. The risk of complications from a gastric bypass reversal is related to the patient’s health history.
In trained hands, gastric bypass reversal can be completed through a minimally invasive technique called laparoscopic surgery. Only one small incision is used to access the abdominal cavity, which simplifies the procedure and leads to a shorter recovery period. Surgeons at ALO Bariatrics are experts in using the laparoscopic approach to increase the safety of gastric bypass reversal for patients.
How Well Does a Gastric Bypass Reversal Work?
Reversal of gastric bypass surgery works well for a majority of patients. Gastric bypass surgery involves the rerouting of some anatomical structures of the gastrointestinal tract. When a reversal is done, surgeons do their best to reestablish the original orientation of those anatomical structures. It won’t be the same due to the development of scar tissue from the original procedure.
When you get a gastric bypass reversal, it’s not a guarantee that all your symptoms will resolve or you’ll gain weight back immediately. However, for the majority of patients, symptoms do improve, and they can gain healthy weight if they experience too much weight loss and malnutrition. There is a potential for some side effects to get worse after gastric bypass reversal, including gastroesophageal reflux disease and abdominal pain.
Differences in Recovery for Gastric Bypass Surgery and Gastric Bypass Reversal
The differences in recovery from gastric bypass surgery and gastric bypass reversal will be minimal. Your gastrointestinal tract will need to slowly be reintroduced to solid foods, just like in gastric bypass surgery. Since there will be incisions that need to heal in the stomach and intestines, care needs to be taken to not stretch out the stomach and risk reopening a surgical site. Complications from gastric bypass reversal include the same short-term risks.
Development of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), difficulty with anesthesia, infection, anastomosis leaks, and bleeding are all complications that can take place with surgery. Patients may have complete or partial resolution of some side effects of gastric bypass surgery, like dumping syndrome or malnutrition, but these may take some time to improve.
You should always follow the advice of your surgeon after your procedure to minimize the risk of complications. Should you have any specific questions about the recovery process from gastric bypass reversal, speak with a surgeon from ALO Bariatrics today.
Get an Expert Medical Opinion at ALO Bariatrics
ALO Bariatrics and their team of experienced, board-certified surgeons are some of the most qualified providers of gastric bypass reversal. Patients from all over the world travel to Mexico (medical tourism) to undergo bariatric surgery from our providers, including gastric bypass reversal. Operating out of three state-of-the-art facilities across Mexico, our bundled pricing includes travel expenses, hospital stays, and all surgical services.
Schedule a consultation today with the premier bariatric surgery group in Mexico, and speak with a board-certified surgeon from ALO Bariatrics to discuss your case and if gastric bypass reversal surgery in Mexico is right for you.