Gastric Bypass

If you're very overweight and can't lose pounds with a healthy diet and exercise, weight loss surgery might be an option for you. The surgery is usually for those with a body mass index (BMI) above 40 or those with a BMI of 35 or greater with serious co-morbidities. In general, this means men who are more than 100 pounds overweight and women who are more than 80 pounds overweight. If you are somewhat less overweight, surgery still might be an option if you suffer from life-threatening pulmonary problems like diabetes, heart disease or sleep apnea.

Weight loss, or bariatric, surgery can promote weight loss by limiting the amount of food your stomach can hold, limiting calorie and nutrient absorption, or both. Some operations also restrict the amount of food you can digest. Restriction operations, such as gastric banding and vertical banded gastroplasty, are the surgeries most often used for producing weight loss. These operations restrict food intake by making the stomach smaller and delaying the emptying of food from the stomach, causing the person to feel fuller faster. These restrictive operations lead to weight loss in almost all patients, but some weight regain occurs because individuals are unable to adjust their eating habits.

Gastric bypass surgeries are restrictive operations that construct a pathway from the stomach to the small intestine to avoid nutrient and caloric absorption. These operations produce more weight loss than restriction operations. In fact, patients who have bypass operations generally lose two-thirds of their excess weight within two years of the surgery. Gastric bypass is the favored bariatric surgery in the United States because it’s safer and has fewer complications than other weight loss surgeries.

Most people who have any type of weight loss surgery lose at least 50 percent to 60 percent of excess weight in the first 18 to 24 months after the procedure. Plus, many of the patients’ obesity-related conditions, such as diabetes or sleep apnea, improved after the surgery. Bariatric surgery also can provide long-term, consistent weight loss when accompanied with a few lifestyle changes.

As with any surgery, there are possible risks with weight loss surgery. A common risk of restrictive operations is vomiting when food is not chewed well and stretches the stomach size. Gastric bypass surgeries may cause “dumping syndrome,” whereby stomach contents move too quickly through the small intestine producing symptoms like nausea, weakness, sweating or diarrhea. There is often the potential for small, treatable complications such as abdominal hernias, gallstones and nutritional deficiencies after weight loss surgery.

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Watch Out for Gallstones and Five Other Abdominal Emergencies

Gallstones are a common condition that can get worse if not managed. Having gallstones in your gallbladder can cause a considerable amount of pain in your abdomen and lower back areas. When are abdominal pains bad enough to require a visit to the ER? Let’s start with gallstones and then add five other abdominal emergencies that warrant a trip to the emergency room.

What are Gallstones?

Gallstones are hard deposits that form in your gallbladder. They can form when there’s too much cholesterol or waste in your bile, or if your gallbladder doesn’t empty properly. Medication may aid in dissolving gallstones, but in more urgent scenarios, surgery may be needed.

What are the symptoms?

A gallbladder attack causes a sudden gnawing pain that gets worse. You may feel it in the upper right or center of your belly, your lower back, or between your shoulder blades. You might also vomit or feel nauseous. Other tell-tale signs include:

  • Jaundice
  • Tenderness when urinating
  • A sharp pain in the abdomen
  • Difficulty relieving yourself on the toilet

What Are the Treatments for Gallstones?

Surgical removal of the gallbladder is a frequent remedy. Gallstones are a common reason to go to the ER, because a person with this condition may require immediate removal of the gallbladder.

Other Abdominal Emergencies

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is when part of your aorta balloons with blood and ends up running through your abdomen. Over time, the bulge in your aorta weakens until the force of normal blood pressure can cause it to rupture. This can lead to severe pain and massive internal bleeding. Symptoms include:

  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Back pain
  • Low blood pressure

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is most often seen in males over age 60 who have one or more risk factors. The larger the aneurysm, the more likely it is to break open or tear. This can be life threatening and requires emergency care.

Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus. Almost all ectopic pregnancies—more than 90%—occur in a fallopian tube. As the pregnancy grows, it can cause the tube to rupture. A rupture can cause internal bleeding which can be a life-threatening emergency that needs immediate surgery.

Symptoms include:

  • Missed menstrual period
  • Tender breasts
  • Upset stomach
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Mild cramping on one side of the pelvis

Abnormal bleeding and pelvic pain should be brought to the attention of your obstetrician–gynecologist immediately. If you have sudden, severe pain; shoulder pain; or weakness, you should go to an emergency room.


Gastritis causes the inflammation of your stomach lining. The bacteria that causes Gastritis may also be found in patients suffering from ulcers. Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Diarrhea

Gastritis is an emergency if you have severe abdominal pain and vomiting. Symptoms include:

  • Paleness
  • A racing heartbeat
  • Dizziness and shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Vomiting blood
  • Bloody stool

Peptic ulcer

A peptic ulcer is an open sore or raw area found in the lining of your stomach or intestine. It causes the breakdown of your stomach lining. Symptoms of an ulcer include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

An ulcer becomes an emergency when perforation takes place. A perforated ulcer is a condition in which an untreated ulcer has burned through the gastrointestinal tract, allowing gastric fluid to leak into the abdominal cavity. Symptoms of a perforated ulcer include:

  • Sudden, severe pain in the upper abdomen
  • Pain spreading to the back or shoulder
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Bloating

Excessive Vomiting

Vomiting is your body’s way of letting you know that you’ve ingested something that doesn’t settle right in the stomach. If you suffer from recurrent vomiting, this may be caused by underlying medical conditions that need medical assessment. In some cases, vomiting can lead you to require emergency medical attention. You should immediately go to the doctor if you:

  • Vomit for more than one day
  • Suspect food poisoning
  • Have a severe headache accompanied by a stiff neck
  • Experience abdominal pain

It’s difficult to entirely avoid viruses that cause vomiting. However, you can reduce your chances of getting a virus by exercising good hygiene, like washing your hands regularly.

Don’t delay in an emergency. Your safe care is our #1 priority.

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