According to the October 2006 issue of Annals of Surgery, a newer weight loss procedure using the duodenal switch is showing better results than gastric bypass. The duodenal switch is a procedure that combines restrictive and malabsorptive procedures for long-term weight loss. It is sometimes known as a biliopancreatic diversion. This procedure creates a smaller pouch in the stomach to hold food, while also bypassing a portion of the small intestine. This lets the patient lose weight quickly, but not be severely limited with their nutrition or eating habits.
The new stomach pouch can hold approximately six ounces of food, about three times what other procedures allow. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the surgery not only helped patients lose weight, but cured diabetes in some and reduced the need for asthma medications in others.
Like other types of weight loss surgery, the duodenal switch procedure is done under general anesthesia. During the procedure you will be asleep and will feel no pain. It is a laparoscopic procedure, done with a small camera inserted into your stomach to allow the surgeon to perform the surgery. After making multiple incisions to allow instruments to perform the surgery, the duodenum, part of the small intestine, is attached to the lower part of the small intestine. This lets food bypass the rest of the small intestine and go straight to the duodenum.
Your recovery will include being sore and tender in the abdomen for several weeks after the procedure. You will need to refrain from excessive physical activity until your doctor approves it. Other than that, basic daily activities can begin after a few days. You will notice weight coming off rapidly for the first 2-3 months and slower after that. A good amount of your excess weight should come off within two years after the procedure.
Your eating habits will change immediately after surgery. In the beginning, your stomach can hold about a cup of food at a time. If you attempt to eat more than a cup of chewed food, you will become nauseated, have abdominal cramping and might vomit up the excess food. Gradually, your stomach stretches to allow room for a typical meal. It is important to keep close track of what you eat and how much each day and stop eating when you feel full. Never eat when you aren’t feeling hungry. Eat your food slowly, taking a good 30 minutes to finish a meal. Pause between bites to allow your stomach to feel full, so you don’t overeat and feel discomfort afterward.
Proper nutrition is also important. Doctors recommend 100 grams of protein a day, plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as seeds, nuts and whole grains. Refrain from foods with a high fat content because your body doesn’t absorb them as well. Sugary foods should also be limited, in place of foods with natural sugars, like fresh fruit. These foods can also slow your weight loss, so stick to natural, healthy food options.
There are a number of risks to be aware by choosing the duodenal switch weight loss procedure. While it is a highly effective type of surgery that allows you to continue eating nutritious food without severe limitations, it is also slightly more aggressive than other procedures. Some risks to be aware of following the duodenal switch procedure include blood clots in the legs or lungs, infection, abscess, bowel obstruction, leaks from the surgical site, pneumonia for some patients and potential healing problems at the surgical site.
Potential complications to be aware of are injury to the spleen, bleeding or kidney failure. To reduce your risks of this procedure, inform your doctor of any medications or vitamins you take prior to surgery, and stop taking any they recommend. Do not smoke at least two weeks before surgery or after, as this slows the healing process. Take any antibiotics prescribed to you and follow all aftercare instructions. By looking for side effects early, you prevent more serious complications such as bleeding or infection.