How The Gastric Bypass "Pouch" Works - My Bariatric Life

Patient Expert

At this particular moment in time all the good people who are reading this post might very well be considering weight-loss surgery, are actively pursuing weight-loss surgery, are waiting for weight-loss surgery to be performed, or have already had weight-loss surgery. Like most things (especially those things that are technical or at least somewhat technical), specified vocabulary accompanies the central subject matter. Terms such as gastric bypass, co-morbidity, bariatric surgery, malabsorption, and pouch are now in your vocabulary. Perhaps you sometimes feel as though you have fallen into the pages of a Thesaurus or perhaps it is all just information. Whatever the case, welcome to it and good luck.

While we're here, let's talk about a thing or two as long you don't mind.

Gastric Bypass

Gastric bypass surgery is an operation that is performed to address the problem of morbid obesity and its' co-morbidities. Gastric bypass is one class of operation that is used to address morbid obesity. Bariatric surgery is the term that is used to the spectrum of operations used to treat morbid obesity.

A Reader's Digest version of a gastric bypass procedure is a division of the stomach in to a small upper pouch and a larger lower pouch. The small intestine is then rearranged so that both pouches can connect to it.

The Gastric Bypass Pouch

The gastric bypass pouch is formed by the part of the stomach that is least likely to stretch. A normal stomach is capable if stretching beyond 1000 ml.
The gastric bypass pouch is about 15 ml. The small size of the gastric bypass pouch disallows any great change in pouch size across the long term.

How the Gastric Bypass Pouch Works

The first principle as to how the gastric bypass pouch works has to do with the stretch of the pouch walls.

The stretch is detected by receptors in the pouch wall which send a message to the brain that the stomach is full. The patient will then experience the sensation of being full despite the fact that only a small bit of food has been consumed.

The second principle as to the working of the gastric bypass pouch has to do with maintaining a specified weight. The small bowel becomes capable of holding a greater amount of food across time, but by the time this happens the desired weight has been lost. While the capacity of the pouch has increased, but this increase allows the patient to maintain the lower body weight.

Finally, when the small bowel receives nutrients a number of hormones are released. These hormones check additional food intake. It has been speculated that changes in hormonal levels after gastric bypass reduce food intake and body weight in obese people. There is currently some debate over the validity of this contention.

News Medical  - accessed 5/24/12
Understanding the Function of the Small Gastric Pouch; Application to Post-Op Teaching and Evaluation  -
accessed 5/24/12

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