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What is a Laparoscopic Roux-En-Y?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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A Roux-en-Y procedure is a type of gastric bypass surgery for weight reduction in patients who are obese. When a laparoscopic Roux-en-Y is performed, this means that the surgeon uses a small incision instead of a large one in order to shorten recovery time. This surgery staples the stomach in a way that allows food to avoid, or bypass, a section of the small intestine. The end result is that fewer calories are absorbed into the body, leading to weight loss.

Gastric bypass surgery is a drastic approach to weight loss, and not every patient may be a good candidate for this procedure. Patients must be willing to integrate healthier approaches to food into their lifestyle on a permanent basis. They must also understand the potential risks and complications involved with not only the surgery itself, but also life after the surgery. In addition, surgeons will only perform a laparoscopic Roux-en-Y surgery on a patient who has a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40 or higher. Candidates for this surgery may also have other medical problems that are associated with obesity, such as heart disease, sleep apnea, or type 2 diabetes.

Those who are considering laparoscopic Roux-en-Y surgery should expect extensive screening and preparation prior to the procedure. They will be advised to follow a specific diet plan for a period of time. An exercise plan will also be customized for each patient. Those who smoke will need to quit cigarettes entirely, as they can increase the risk of certain side effects. Patients should also prepare for their immediate recovery, such as arranging for someone to drive them home from the hospital and taking time off of work or school.

This type of surgery is performed under general anesthesia, so the patient will not be awake during it. The surgeon will make a few small incisions in the abdomen to allow access for small instruments, such as a tiny camera, called a laparoscope. As the surgeon divides the stomach, he will create a small pouch that allows food to pass directly to the middle of the small intestine, rather than the top of it. This pouch is only about as large as a walnut, so it limits the total amount of food the patient can eat, as well as prohibiting complete absorption of the food.

Patients should expect to remain in the hospital for about three to five days following a laparoscopic Roux-en-Y procedure. They will be unable to eat for the first couple of days. In about three to five weeks, most patients may return to their normal schedules and activities.

A very restrictive diet must be followed for the first 12 weeks after surgery. Patients must start with a liquids-only diet, followed by a diet consisting of very soft foods. They will be able to eat regular foods toward the end of the 12 week time period, however they must only eat very small amounts of food. The stomach pouch simply cannot hold a great deal of food. Patients must also avoid certain foods, such as soft drinks, ice cream, and candies, as these high-sugar treats can cause severe diarrhea, rapid heartbeats, and dizziness, which are symptoms of “dumping syndrome.”

Following a laparoscopic Roux-en-Y, a regimen of multivitamins must be strictly adhered to, as some patients may develop malnutrition due to poor food absorption. Patients should also understand that this surgery may lead to other risks, such as ulcers, hernias, and nausea or vomiting after eating. Some people may also develop gallstones, become dehydrated, or suffer from blood clots, kidney stones, or low blood sugar.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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