Can Gastric Bypass be reversed?

Doctor Answers 1

Reversing the "Irreversible" Operation

It is a common misperception that a gastric bypass can not be reversed.  In fact, many people will choose a different operation because they have been told that a gastric bypass is "permanent" or "irreversible".  Having done it 5 times myself, I can assure you that it is ABSOLUTELY possible to reverse a gastric bypass!  While it is possible to reverse a gastric bypass, it still remains exceeding unusual to come across a clinical situation that would require reversal.  Here are a few reasons that might justify a reversal:

1)  Ulcers at the gastrojejunal anastomosis (connection between the gastric pouch and the small intestine) that will not heal or continue to come back over and over.  This is most commonly associated with a patient that starts smoking after their gastric bypass.  Usually if the ulcer is due to a medical reason the ulcer can be healed with medications and rarely an operation (not a reversal).

2)  Severe malnutrition.  Again extremely unusual that nutritional issues can't be addressed without reversal.

3)  Psychological issues.  Some patients can't mentally adjust to life after their gastric bypass and may become a danger to themselves. 

There are likely additional reasons why a surgeon might suggest a reversal of a gastric bypass but these are the ones that jump to mind.  As you can see, it would be an extreme reason to reverse a gastric bypass and that's why it isn't done often, but it certainly can be done.  One thing to keep in mind, if a gastric bypass is reversed the patient generally regains a significant amount of the weight they were able to lose with the operation. 

Corpus Christi Bariatric Surgeon

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