Gastric bypass is a type of bariatric (weight loss) surgery designed to treat an unhealthy level of obesity. It is performed by inserting small, specialized instruments into the abdomen and creating a small upper stomach pouch. Food passes into this small pouch before it enters the intestine through a small opening, bypassing the rest of the stomach and part of the small intestine. Since the surgery is performed using minimally invasive (laparoscopic) techniques that require only small incisions, it results in less pain, a faster recovery, and a shorter hospital stay than traditional weight loss surgery. Many patients are released from the hospital in just 1-2 days and can return to work as early as two weeks after surgery.
Patients are required to follow a special diet during recovery and take certain steps to reduce the risk of complications and improve their chances of weight loss. Most gastric bypass patients lose 60-80% of excess weight and have an 80% chance of keeping the weight off. The weight loss can have a positive impact on high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, and arthritis. Weight loss surgery is not a cure for obesity. Patients must commit to lifestyle changes that include a healthy diet, exercise, and follow-up appointments to help achieve and maintain their weight loss goals.
Obesity is a medical problem that can have a wide range of mental and physical effects. If you or a loved one has struggled with obesity for years and has tried unsuccessfully to combine a healthy diet with exercise to lose weight, UAB Medicine is the place to turn. UAB has been performing weight loss procedures for more than 30 years. It was the first American College of Surgeons Level 1 Bariatric Surgery Center in Alabama, and it is designated a Comprehensive Center by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). This history, combined with our standing as a premier academic medical center, puts UAB Medicine at the forefront of weight loss surgery.
Patients who have complications from bariatric surgery done elsewhere are referred here, which gives us a unique perspective on weight loss surgery, its risks, and its limitations. We do not view surgery as a quick fix for weight loss, and it should not be the first consideration when evaluating weight loss methods. We treat and manage obesity using a comprehensive approach that may include surgery, the UAB Weight Loss Medicine Clinic, behavioral therapists, and dietitians. Our weight loss support group meets regularly and is open to all patients, whether they have had bariatric surgery or are considering it.
IMAGES AND VIDEOS
If you or a loved one has struggled with obesity for some time and has tried unsuccessfully to combine a healthy diet with exercise to lose weight, UAB Medicine is the place to turn.
Bariatric Surgey Program Overview
If you or a loved one has struggled with obesity for some time and has tried unsuccessfully to combine a healthy diet with exercise to lose weight, UAB Medicine is the place to turn. Led by Richard Stahl, MD, and Jayleen Grams, MD, the bariatric surgery program at UAB Medicine has been performing weight-loss procedures for more than 30 years. It was the first American College of Surgeons Level 1 Bariatric Surgery Center in Alabama, and is designated a Comprehensive Center by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). This history, combined with our standing as a premier academic medical center, puts UAB Medicine at the forefront of weight-loss surgery.
Discover how three patients used weight loss surgery to overcome their struggle with obesity and take back their lives
How Obesity Surgery Helps People Reclaim Their Lives
Led by Richard Stahl, MD, and Jayleen Grams, MD, the bariatric surgery program at UAB Medicine has been performing weight-loss procedures for more than 30 years, and it is the first American College of Surgeons Level 1 Bariatric Surgery Center in Alabama. This history, combined with our standing as a respected academic medical center, puts UAB Medicine at the forefront of weight-loss surgery.
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Bariatric Surgery Gives Janice a Second Chance at Life
|JANICE - BEFORE
||JANICE - AFTER
For me, bariatric surgery was not just a solution, it was a life choice. My reason for having the surgery was to give me a second chance at life. I had been overweight and struggling against weight and depression problems for a long time, and my weight was affecting my health and my ability to live life. It’s something I struggled with for a long time. The death of my mother was the moment I decided I wanted to live life, to see my children and grandchildren grow up. I knew in order for this change to happen I needed to change my life for the better.
I struggled with a lot of medical problems that stemmed from being overweight. I had been diagnosed with diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, back problems and finally heart trouble. I started with diets and gradually moved to medication. No matter how much weight I lost it always came back. The combination of my medical problems and medication was affecting my energy, my mobility, and mostly my ability to live life.
In 2007 I lost my mother. Her death gave me the spark of encouragement that made me want to change my life for the better. I wanted to be able to see my children and great grandchildren grow up, and I knew that if I didn’t change my weight then that couldn’t happen. Once I decided to turn my weight around, I began taking the steps toward approval for surgery. Before I could be a candidate for bariatric surgery, I needed to come off of the medicines I was on. In December of 2007, I completed rehab, but only to find myself subject to heart problems. Finally in the spring of 2009, I was approved for the bariatric surgery.
In 2009, my primary care physician recommended me as a candidate for bariatric surgery. I immediately began the process for insurance qualification. In October of 2009, I was approved. On December 15, 2009, Dr. Jayleen Grams performed my gastric bypass surgery at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, AL.
I wasn’t worried about having the surgery. I knew that I needed something major to change my life so that I felt like I was living again. The scary thing for me was not being able to live. I knew if I did everything Dr. Grams told me to do that the surgery would be a success.
Just the idea of a successful surgery kept me optimistic during the entire process. Once I was released from the hospital, my recovery began. I had some complications post-op. I had a staple that had come loose, but Dr. Grams quickly fixed it and the road to recovery began again.
As soon as I got home from the hospital, my weight loss began. I lost between 20 and 25 pounds a month. After the first couple of months, my weight loss slowed to around two to three pounds a week. At 15 months, I reached my program goal of 130 pounds. To date, I’ve lost 147 pounds, and my body mass index has dropped from 44.2 to 21. My blood pressure got better, and I regained strength and energy that I didn’t know I had. My diabetes and heart troubles have disappeared. Losing the weight would not have been possible without the wonderful support groups I attended. I go to one to two support groups a month.
Having the surgery has been a blessing. Before, I wasn’t able to walk a few steps without running out of breath, but now I’m able to run with my grandchildren. I even go kayaking with my youngest son. Being able to look in the mirror and not cry anymore leaves me speechless. I don’t feel the need to refuse to see what my reflection looks like. I’m almost completely off of medications other than my gastric vitamins. I expected the surgery to change my life, but I never thought that I would have the life I do now.
I’m living a healthy life, and I enjoy living again. I’m not held in the prison of my bed any longer.
My advice to anyone looking to have gastric bypass is to think about the reasons you’re having surgery. Surgery shouldn’t be looked at as an instant fix. The qualification process alone can take several months. You should think about how your life will change before and after having gastric bypass. You shouldn’t look at gastric bypass as a go-to solution, but instead as a stepping stone to help you reach those long term goals that you have for yourself.
Surgery is just one step in the process. You should make sure that you follow the proper procedures so that you don’t end up in the same condition where you started. A key to helping you know what to look forward to and to learn what you need is to utilize support groups. You can ask pre- and post-op patients questions to help you learn what to expect.
As long as you follow the proper steps, gastric bypass can be a wonderful tool to help you live a better life. It, along with the program, will help you maintain your health. It reduced my health problems and gave me back years of my life. It has given me a second chance at a better life for me and my family.