Gastric Bypass Surgery - Preparation for the Big Event

By: Craig Thompson

As with any surgical procedure, proper preparation before gastric bypass surgery is extremely important to ensure the experience is not overly stressful. Assuming your doctor confirms that you are a valid candidate for a gastric bypass, the first thing you should do to prepare is to contact your insurance company to see if they cover weight loss surgery.

If the surgery qualifies for coverage, your insurance carrier may require both physical and psychological clearances as part of the gastric bypass preparation. They may accept information sent by your doctors or require you to see doctors of their choosing before they will approve the gastric bypass surgery. You also need to see what your financial responsibility will be, so you can make whatever preparations are necessary to pay for it.

Next, you will need to find a qualified hospital or surgical center and pre-register to undergo weight loss surgery. Pre-screening tests will need to be performed about a week prior to surgery.

The Day of the Procedure
Since your stomach must be completely empty to reduce the changes of vomiting during surgery, no food or drink is allowed after midnight the day before your surgery.

Usually, you check into the hospital or surgical center early the morning of your surgery to complete final paperwork and last minute tests. Then, you will be taken to a room where you will change into a surgical gown. Next, you will be taken to a pre-operating holding area where the anesthesiologist will discuss your medical history with you and answer any questions that you may have.

In the operating room, any other necessary preparations will be completed, and then the anesthesiology will start an IV for you. Now it's time for the surgeons to work their magic.

What Happens During Surgery
Gastric bypass surgery is performed under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep during the surgery. If you are having a laparoscopic procedure, the surgeon will make three to four small incisions in the outer abdomen wall and insert a micro-sized camera and different surgical instruments into your body. Your abdominal cavity will be filled with gas to inflate the space and make it easier for the surgeon to see what he or she is doing. If you are having the Roux-en-Y procedure performed, the surgeon will make a much larger incision, from your bellybutton to breastbone, through which to enter the abdominal cavity and perform the gastric bypass.

In both cases, the surgeon will create a small upper pouch in your stomach using a surgical stapler and reinforcing the staples with stitches. Then the surgeon will divide the small intestine and attach one end to the new stomach pouch, bypassing part of the digestive track so that food will pass directly from the new stomach pouch to the mid-point of the small intestine. The new, smaller stomach pouch prevents the patient from eating large amounts of food, and the bypass prevents the patient's body from absorbing some of the calories in the food that is eaten.

After the surgery is finished, you will be taken to the recovery room where nurses will monitor your condition. As soon as you are ready, you will be sent home and scheduled for a follow-up with your surgeon two weeks later.


This article provides an overview of health issues related to gastric bypass surgery and is not intended to replace the advice of a medical practitioner. Please consult your doctor prior to making any major medical decisions.

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Craig Thompson, better known as "Big T," has a reputation for doing things in a mighty big way. The former sumo wrestler who used to tip the scales at 400 pounds has since reinvented himself as a singer and bandleader. As one of the earliest to have Gastric Bypass Surgery, in 1997, Thompson now helps others at

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