Gastric Bypass Surgery for the Treatment of Obesity


Cause / Condition 
Obesity is a medical condition that involves how people burn energy and how their appetites are regulated. At Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s (Milwaukee Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery) Bariatric Center, we recognize that obesity is the result of many factors. Family influence, genetics, and cultural and psychological factors all play a role.


We know how difficult it is to lose weight through dieting and exercise programs. You’ve probably tried a variety of these programs over the years, with little or no success.

Obesity greatly increases your risk for developing serious health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, sleep apnea, arthritis, and more. Obesity also affects other parts of your life. It may be difficult to socialize with others and to do many activities that others take for granted such as sitting in a movie theater. Obesity contributes to low self-esteem and emotional problems.

It’s important to know that you haven’t run out of options. This may be the time to consider gastric bypass surgery at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s (Milwaukee Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery) Bariatric Center - one of the only centers in southeastern Wisconsin dedicated to helping severely overweight people. We focus on your health as much as helping you to lose weight.


About the Procedure 
Gastric bypass surgery or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is an operation recognized by the National Institutes of Health for the treatment of severe obesity.


In Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, a small stomach pouch is created, and that pouch is then connected to a shorter length of the small intestine. The normal stomach is the size of a melon or a football, and gastric bypass reduces it to the size of an egg. This procedure helps you lose weight in two ways:
1. The smaller pouch encourages you to eat smaller amounts of food.
2. Because part of the stomach and part of the small intestine are "bypassed" in the digestive process, fewer nutrients and thus fewer calories are absorbed.

Though Roux-en-y gastric bypass has been performed for many years, this surgery now can be done using laparoscopy, also called minimally invasive surgery. With laparoscopy, surgery is performed through a few small incisions in the abdomen. The surgeon uses the incisions to insert a laparoscope, a small telescope connected to a tiny video camera. The camera transmits a picture to a video monitor that the surgeon uses to guide the instruments during the surgery.

Having gastric bypass surgery using laparoscopy means that you have a shorter recovery time and can return to normal activities sooner. Laparoscopy also significantly reduces wound complications including infections, hernias, and wound reopenings. Other advantages include less pain after the surgery, a shorter hospital stay, and fewer stitches.

Please note: Although you may request laparoscopy (minimally invasive surgery), you may be a better candidate for open or traditional gastric bypass surgery.

Gastric bypass is major surgery, and it is not appropriate for everyone who wants to lose weight. Candidates for gastric bypass surgery include:

  • People with a body mass index (BMI)* of 40 or greater.
  • People with a BMI of 35–40 who also have health problems associated with obesity. These problems can include diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, heart disease, and degenerative joint disease.


Before being considered for this operation, you must be evaluated by an experienced surgeon and be considered a good risk for this surgery. You also must have tried other weight loss programs, and be motivated and committed to the overall bariatric surgery program, which includes certain lifestyle changes.

Most insurance plans will pay for gastric bypass surgery and follow-up care.
*Body Mass Index is calculated as the weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of the height (in meters). It correlates well with the amount of fat in the body.


After surgery you will be monitored and observed by hospital staff, including your surgeon, and discharged when medically stable.



Expectations / Experience 
Most people who have Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery lose 60% to 80% of their excess weight—and they keep it off. It is not uncommon for this surgery to result in a loss of 100 or more pounds. Follow-up studies have shown that people have maintained that loss for 10 years.


In addition to losing weight, people also reduce or eliminate many health problems associated with obesity such as hypertension, degenerative joint disease, and diabetes. Some people who take medications for their obesity-related diseases can reduce their intake, or eliminate their medicines completely.

In addition to the physical improvements after surgery, there are psychological and social benefits as well. Many people gain a more positive outlook on life. They finally are able to "fit in" to a world that had not adapted to their larger size. It’s a whole new way of life!

Following your surgery, we offer you a personal consultation with a physical therapist to develop an exercise plan for your specific needs. A community-based exercise program—designed specially for people who have had bariatric surgery—also is available.


The Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery Team 
The Bariatric Center at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s offers comprehensive care before, during, and after surgery. Team members include a surgeon who is fellowship-trained in bariatric surgery and laparoscopic surgery and a physician member of the Milwaukee Institute of Minimally Invasive Surgery.


Other team members provide a variety of support and care services. Specialists in nutrition, psychiatry, gastroenterology, sleep medicine, rehabilitation, and endocrinology will work together to help you in your recovery. And our specially trained nursing staff understands your special needs while you receive care in the Bariatric Center.

For more information about the Bariatric Center at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s, please call 414-962-BARI (2274) or visit the Center for Bariatric Surgery website.



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