Bariatric surgery is the most popular and successful form of weight loss surgery, and among the many types of bariatric surgery one type stands out as being one of the most researched, reliable, and popular: gastric bypass.
However, not many people know that there are two primary types of gastric bypass: traditional gastric bypass surgery and mini gastric bypass surgery. Both of them are potent weight loss surgeries, but there are some key differences between the two surgeries.
While, ultimately, a physician should decide which type of surgery is suitable for your case. Nevertheless, learning what both types of surgeries are precisely and what distinguishes them will help you make more informed decisions. And this is exactly what we’ll aim to do in this article.
Traditional Gastric Bypass Surgery
Traditional gastric bypass surgery, as its name suggests, is the older and more popular type of gastric bypass. The first bariatric weight loss surgery was in fact gastric bypass, and it was performed in 1954. When people hear ‘gastric bypass’, they immediately think of the traditional type.
Traditional gastric bypass involves dividing the stomach into a tiny upper pouch and a large lower pouch. The patient’s intestines are then re-routed to connect to the tiny upper pouch, ‘bypassing’ most of the stomach. This is where the surgery got its name from.
The Benefits of Gastric Bypass
As a weight loss surgery, it won’t come as a surprise that the surgery’s biggest benefit is … excess weight loss. Traditional gastric bypass is special in that it helps the patient achieve rapid weight loss through more than one mechanism:
- restrictive weight loss: this refers to weight loss induced through restricting the stomach’s ability to hold food. After performing traditional gastric surgery, the patient’s body can only hold food in the upper, smaller stomach pouch, and this makes the patient feel ‘full’ very quickly. By restricting how much food the patient can eat, the surgery helps the patient lose weight.
- malabsorptive weight loss: everyone knows that our bodies aren’t capable of extracting energy from the food we eat in the form they enter our body in. Our stomach and intestine need to perform many complicated operations to help us extract energy from the food. By rerouting the intestine and connecting it to a small pouch, gastric bypass surgery reduces the amount of time food spends in the patient’s stomach and intestine. This means that the patient will extract fewer calories from the food he eats post-surgery. And since weight gain and loss come down to “calories in and calories out”, this helps the patient lose weight.
The Risks and Downsides of Traditional Gastric Bypass
As an invasive surgery, gastric bypass isn’t without its risks and downsides:
- Traditional Gastric bypass might result in complications: despite being the oldest bariatric surgery, gastric bypass isn’t perfectly safe. It is a very invasive surgery that requires hours of work by an experienced surgeon.
- Traditional Gastric bypass might result in malnutrition: although malabsorption helps the patient lose weight, it also has side effects: by making food digestion less effective, it won’t only reduce caloric intake, but it also weakens the body’s ability to get the necessary vitamins, minerals, etc. from food. And although this can be fixed by the patient taking multivitamin pills every day, it is something you need to keep in mind.
- Traditional Gastric bypass isn’t reversible: as it is major surgery for morbidly obese patients, there is no way to reverse gastric bypass. Patients have to keep this in mind before making the final decision. There’s a silver lining, however: there are corrective surgeries that can deal with most complications that might arise from the surgery.
How Does Mini Gastric Bypass Surgery Compare?
Mini gastric bypass, while being a different type of surgery, it is still gastric bypass, and this means that almost everything we wrote about gastric bypass applies to mini gastric bypass.
The key difference is how both surgeries are performed. Mini gastric bypass surgery involves a new approach that helps the patient achieve the same results with less intestine rerouting. The surgery was first performed in the 90s, so it is a relatively novel approach.
The Benefits of Mini Gastric Bypass
Again, the benefits of mini gastric bypass are identical to traditional gastric bypass. But, mini gastric bypass does have some key benefits over the traditional method:
- lower risk of complications: due to this bariatric surgery procedure involving less intestine rerouting, it is less invasive and has a lower risk of complications.
- slightly faster recovery time: again, due to the surgery being less invasive, the body heals faster. Since gastric surgery recovery takes months and requires extensive care, this matters a lot to many patients.
The Risks of Gastric Bypass
If mini-gastric bypass only had benefits without downsides, the traditional gastric bypass would’ve stopped being performed. But this is not the case, sadly. Mini gastric bypass also has some downsides:
- lower effectiveness: although mini gastric bypass is still a very potent weight loss surgery, it is sadly less effective than the traditional method. There’s no getting around this: it is inherent to how the surgery is performed.
- less availability: since mini gastric bypass is a relatively new surgery, not many doctors have the tools or experience necessary to perform it. You’ll have a harder time finding a professional medical clinic to perform the surgery at.