To successfully lose weight, most people benefit from eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. However, for many other people, neither diet nor exercise can solve their problems with body weight. Gastric bypass surgery was developed to treat morbid obesity in people who are unable to lose weight through diet and exercise alone.
A type of bariatric surgery first developed in the 1960s, the gastric bypass procedure relies upon partial stomach removal to help obese individuals lose weight permanently. By decreasing the size of the patient's stomach, the amount of food a person can eat is limited and she is therefore more apt to lose weight. In addition to weight loss, the procedure helps reduce medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
Despite its benefits, gastric bypass surgery is not the right option for all obese patients. In order to qualify for the operation, the patient must be between the ages of 18 and 65, have been obese for at least five years, have no history of alcohol abuse and no untreated depression or other mental disorders. In addition, because of the risks associated with the procedure, gastric bypass surgery should only be considered by individuals with a body mass index (BMI) over 39.
Individuals who undergo gastric bypass surgery typically lose 50 to 60 percent of their body weight within the first two years. If a proper diet and exercise regime is followed, most people are able to keep the weight off. The procedure is also proven to help prevent, treat and even resolve conditions such as adult-onset diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea and reflux disease. And, following gastric bypass procedures, most patients report improved mobility and increased happiness.
With an average cost of $15,000 to $25,000, gastric bypass surgery is certainly not cheap. Many people incorrectly believe that insurance companies will not cover the gastric bypass procedure. However, many policies do cover treatment for morbid obesity. For gastric bypass surgery to be approved, most insurance companies will require the individual to provide detailed records of diet and medical history. In addition, the insurance provider may also request the patient to submit to certain medical and/or psychological tests. For patients denied insurance, the operation costs can usually be financed and paid in monthly installments.
As with any type of surgery, the gastric bypass procedure has both risks and benefits. Although the operation can result in weight loss and reduced medical risks, health problems such as stomach leakage, infection, gallstones and nutritional deficiency can also occur. In addition, 1.5 percent of all individuals who undergo the surgery die following the operation.