Gastric Bypass Reversal May Not Reverse Hormone Changes in Body

Gastric bypass is the most common type of weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, performed in the United States. There are many reasons for this, from a high level of success from previous patients to the fact that it is reversible, unlike the sleeve gastrectomy.

Gastric Bypass Surgery

A small stomach pouch is made during the gastric bypass procedure, which helps patients lose weight by restricting the amount of food they eat. However, this isn’t the only reason it is so effective. Gastric bypass is also known to change certain hormone levels in the body, increasing the metabolism and even fighting off diseases like type 2 diabetes, and reducing the risk of cancer. Patients who choose to have the procedure reversed can rest easy because the reversal may not mean a change in their hormone changes, according to a recent study that appeared in the journal Diabetologia.

About Gastric Bypass

Of the different types of weight loss surgeries, gastric bypass is the procedure performed most often. It makes up about 80 percent of weight loss surgeries performed in the United States. In gastric bypass, a small pouch is made in the stomach that devices the stomach into a large portion and a small portion. This is also called stomach stapling because the stapling is what creates the smaller pouch. Once it is done, a person eats by mouth and the food bypasses the larger section of the stomach, only going to the smaller pouch. This pouch can only hold about a cup of food at a time, which limits how much the patient eats. This in turn, along with the hormone changes, helps them to eat less and lose weight.

It is a safe and effective weight loss procedure with about 90 percent of patients experiencing no complications. After gastric bypass, the average patient loses about 60 percent of their excess weight, much of which is lost in the first year after the surgery. After having this surgery, your food and beverages are restricted, but so is the type of food you eat. Because you can only have a small amount of food at a time, it is important to eat nutritious foods. If you fail to do so, you could become malnourished from having only a small amount of food that is unhealthy and does not contain the proper vitamins and minerals.

The Study

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati want to find out about what happens with the hormone changes in someone if they choose to have their gastric bypass procedure reversed. The study was led by associate professor of endocrinology, metabolism, and diabetes, Marzieh Salehi, MD. He and his research team were able to perform a unique study of someone who had a gastric bypass procedure eight years previous.

During the study, they compared the glucose metabolism level of the patient with getting a gastric feeding tube for medical reasons. The reason the study was so helpful is that the patient was able to get the nutrients through the gastric feeding tube by going to the stomach pouch instead of the foregut, and orally. The primary hormonal change in patients that get the gastric bypass procedure is the GLP-1, which is a gut hormone, and it changes because of the changed metabolism of the patient after getting this procedure.

What researchers didn’t know is if the change in nutrients through the gastrointestinal tract would change the hormones in their bodies. The study helped researchers determine if the route of ingesting food affected the glucose levels.

Results and Findings

The main result from this study is that the patient had increased levels of the GLP-1 hormone action and concentrations that were entirely independent of the method of eating. By looking at the feeding through the gastric bypass feeding tube and eating orally at the same time, Salehi could figure out exactly what hormonal changes existed and how these could relate to someone that got the gastric bypass and then decided to have it reversed.

She said, “It is likely that the increased secretion and action of GLP-1 after gastric bypass surgery is not entirely due to the rapid passage of nutrients into the lower gut.” This means that the hormone changes may likely exist even after the procedure has been reversed because they are not solely due to the way in which you eat after having the surgery.

Long Story Short

This is great news for someone who had the surgery and for whatever reason, wants to reverse it, but still get the positive effects that the hormone changes gave them. Salehi frequently studies gastric bypass patients after having the surgery and getting hypoglycemia after eating, which is where her interest in this unique opportunity came to be. Her final words after the study were, “Our new findings show that simply reversing gastric bypass several years after surgery may not reverse the hormonal effects brought on by the surgery itself.”

While the gastric bypass weight loss procedure is an excellent option for losing weight and has a very high success rate, not all patients are interested in having this as a lifetime change. Some want to reverse it for medical reasons or otherwise. The good news is that following this study, it looks like reversing the surgery won’t reverse all of the benefits of the surgery.

The Verdict on Hormonal Changes

The hormone changes, which likely increase your metabolism and help you fight off cancer and diseases, may still exist. If you have not yet had the surgery, it is important to do proper research first and determine if you are a good candidate for it. It is a lifestyle change and one that you should make a commitment for.

The majority of patients are happy with the results and don’t request it to be reversed. However a small portion of patients need to have it reversed after a few years for medical reasons, and that group of patients is going to benefit from this study. Dr. Salehi is finally able to see that the hormone changes are not necessarily due to the way of eating and might be permanent.

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