Bariatric Surgery Singapore: Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass

The concept of weight loss is something that seems easy when you think about it. You go on a diet, do some exercises, and notice your weight going down. In some cases, losing weight is as simple as that, but it does not ring true for all. There are numerous diet and exercise plans out there that you can try. However, weight loss is not a “one size fits all” type of situation.

For people looking to lose weight, especially those who are diagnosed as overweight or obese, have a harder time doing so. Usually, they start to realize that they are not getting the results they’re aiming for even if they commit to a strict diet and workout regimen. As the number of cases of obesity increases in Singapore, it is no surprise that various alternative solutions have become prominent in the medical industry.

One of the more well-known weight loss solutions in Singapore is bariatric surgery, specifically gastric bypass. Many hospitals recommend gastric bypass as a way to aid weight loss for those who struggle to do so with mere diet and exercise.

There are numerous sources that give credible information about the procedure. However, to get a deep and comprehensive understanding of gastric bypass, we invited Dr. Melvin Look to tell some crucial things one needs to know before undergoing the surgery.

Dr. Look is a Consultant General Surgeon and Medical Director of the PanAsia Surgical Group. His expertise includes gastrointestinal surgery, therapeutic endoscopy (including ERCP), and advanced laparoscopic surgery. He is known as the first surgeon in South East Asia to perform a number of advanced laparoscopic operations, including Laparoscopic Swedish Adjustable Gastric Banding for morbid obesity.

Common Questions on Gastric Bypass

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1. What is a Gastric Bypass procedure?

This is a keyhole laparoscopic surgical procedure which creates a small egg-shaped pouch in the upper stomach that is then connected to the lower part of the small intestine in a “Y” configuration. Food is diverted by this bypass and is only absorbed in a short segment of the intestines.

2. Who is eligible, and what are the criteria?

The gastric bypass is a very effective procedure for weight loss, as it is a malabsorption procedure. In other words, your gastrointestinal system will no longer be able to absorb the calories and nutrients from the food you eat. However, it can cause side effects such as diarrhoea and nutritional problems.

As such, the gastric bypass is only reserved for patients with severe obesity or obesity associated with complications such as diabetes.

Credits: Maria Hospital

3. Does this procedure require endoscopy?

Endoscopy (examination of the stomach with a scope) is required in the pre-op assessment if the stomach before the patient goes for surgery. The operation itself is done by laparoscopy (keyhole abdominal surgery).

4. Does this procedure require general anaesthesia? When and why is there a need for general anaesthesia? Are there any side effects of general anaesthesia? Are there any potential complications for general anaesthesia?

This operation requires General Anaesthesia. You are given medication to be totally asleep and paralysed during the surgery. A tube is inserted into the lungs to help you breathe with a machine.

GA is required for all laparoscopic surgeries, as carbon dioxide gas is used to insufflate the abdominal cavity to create the working space for the operation. GA is very safe. Some patients experience post GA nausea, but it is generally very well tolerated.

5. What is the whole process of a patient undergoing this procedure?

Most patients are admitted on the day of the surgery itself. A 6-hour fast is required. Surgery takes 2 to 3 hours, and you will wake up in the operating room after the operation, and then brought back to your ward. You can usually start to consume fluids the next day and stay in hospital for 3 to 5 days for complete recovery.

6. What are the possible complications and side effects for this procedure?

The main risk of the surgery is bleeding and leakage from the bypass joints. Other complications include infections and deep vein thrombosis.

Your stomach capacity will be much smaller after surgery. You may have reflux or vomiting if you overeat. Other side effects include frequent diarrhoea and nutrient deficiency caused by the malabsorption. You will need lifelong follow up and vitamin supplements.

7. Is this procedure claimable with Medisave? Which part of the procedure is claimable?

The surgery is done for medical indications, and you may be able to claim from your medical insurance plan if your plan does not specifically exclude treatment for weight loss and obesity. You can also use your Medisave, but the claimable amount covers only a small percentage of the total cost if surgery is done in a private hospital.

There are people out there who are apprehensive about undergoing bariatric surgeries such as gastric bypass. They may fear the possible complications brought by the procedure. With that said, maintaining an unhealthy diet may also equal, if not more, harm to your health. Experts like Dr. Look are there to help you shed off your weight in a safe medical approach.

If you’re still hesitant about undergoing permanent procedures such as gastric bypass, there are other weight loss solutions out there such as gastric balloons that can also give you your desired results. With the platter of available resources out there, you have no reason why you can’t pursue your weight loss journey. Please seek advice from a qualified doctor to assess eligibility for this program.

To know more about Dr. Melvin Look, you can read more here.