If you are one of the millions of clinically obese individuals facing the prospect of weight loss surgery (some estimates put the number of morbidly obese Americans at 15 million) then the mini gastric bypass probably sounds like the ideal solution.
A short, simple and relatively inexpensive form of minimally invasive weight loss surgery typically involving less than 45 minutes in surgery and no more than an overnight stay in hospital, the advertising certainly makes it seem an attractive prospect – at least when compared to the alternatives.
But is mini gastric bypass surgery really such a good choice?
The number of people undergoing weight loss surgery has been rising dramatically from some 20,000 surgeries ten years ago to more than 200,000 operations which will be performed this year in the United States alone.
Against this background it is estimated that less than 4,000 people worldwide will opt for the mini gastric bypass, which is far from a ringing endorsement for this attractive sounding option. So why are so few people choosing this route?
Weight loss surgery began its life back in the 1950s, but much of today’s surgery is based upon the work of Dr Mason and Dr Ito and arises out of observations they made on the weight loss of women undergoing partial gastrectomy for peptic ulcer disease.
One of the early forms of gastric bypass surgery involved the use of a small loop connected to the re-constructed stomach pouch which proved to be a relatively simple procedure and produced some very encouraging results. Unfortunately, however, this procedure also allowed digestive juices from the small bowel to enter the gastric pouch and these extremely corrosive juices sometimes gave rise to severe ulceration of both the stomach and the esophagus.
As a result, the procedure was quickly abandoned and further experimentation led to a number of more successful procedures, some of which are still widely used today, such as the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.
The dramatic increase in the demand for weight loss surgery in the past few years has given rise to a similar growth in the number of surgeons performing bariatric surgery and in the number of medical centers specializing in weight loss.
Competition between centers is fierce in this not only high demand, but also highly lucrative, field and, amongst other things, this has given rise to a number of variations of long accepted “standard” surgical techniques as centers compete for customers. One such variation is seen in the return of the early “loop” gastric bypass (although now performed laparoscopically) under the highly marketable name of the mini gastric bypass.
Those looking at this particular option must of course judge for themselves whether or not the passage of time has resulted into sufficient improvement in this technique to make it a sound option, but while it may be simple, fast and reasonably free of complications in the short-term (and while mini gastric bypass costs are also attractive) there is considerable medical literature available suggesting that serious long-term complications are likely to arise from the mini gastric bypass.