By Dr. Divya Nagpal Blog Published on - 04 May - 2023

Gastric Bypass Surgery and Sleep Apnea: How One Can Help the Other

Obesity and sleep apnea are two related health problems that affect millions of people around the world. Obesity is the most common cause of sleep apnea, a condition in which the airways become blocked during sleep, causing pauses in breathing and sleep disturbances. On the other hand, sleep apnea can lead to a number of other health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. One treatment for obesity and sleep apnea is gastric bypass surgery. In this article, we explore how gastric bypass surgery can help improve sleep apnea symptoms and overall health.

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What is gastric bypass surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery is a type of bariatric surgery designed to help people lose weight by reducing the size of the stomach and redirecting the flow of the small intestine to reduce calorie absorption. The operation involves creating a small pouch at the top of the stomach and connecting it to the small intestine, bypassing the rest of the stomach and the first part of the small intestine. It reduces food intake and increases satiety, leading to weight loss.

How does gastric bypass surgery help with sleep apnea?

Gastric bypass surgery has been shown to improve sleep apnea symptoms in obese patients. In a study published in the journal Chest, researchers found that gastric bypass surgery significantly improved the severity and symptoms of sleep apnea in 86 percent of patients. The study also found that patients who lost more weight had better improvement in their sleep apnea symptoms.

The reason that gastric bypass surgery can help sleep apnea has to do with weight loss and changes in body anatomy. Being overweight is a major risk factor for sleep apnea, as excess fat in the neck and throat area can narrow the airways and cause blockages during sleep.

Gastric reduction surgery can lead to significant weight loss, reduce neck and throat fat and reduce the risk of airway obstruction. In addition, gastric bypass surgery can also affect the body's hormones and metabolism in ways that can improve sleep apnea symptoms.

For example, surgery can reduce levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite and is linked to sleep apnea. In addition, gastric bypass surgery can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, which can reduce inflammation and improve respiratory health.

What are the risks of gastric bypass surgery?

As with all surgical procedures, gastric bypass surgery has certain risks. Complications can include bleeding, infection, blood clots and side effects of anesthesia. In addition, gastric bypass surgery can cause long-term complications such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies, intestinal obstruction and hernias.

Patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery must also follow a strict diet and exercise regimen to ensure long-term weight loss and reduce the risk of complications. It is important to carefully weigh the risks and benefits of gastric bypass surgery. Patients considering gastric bypass surgery should consult with a bariatric surgeon and sleep medicine specialist to discuss their options and develop an individualized treatment plan.

What are the options for gastric bypass surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery is a major procedure that requires significant lifestyle changes and carries certain risks. For patients who are not suitable for surgery or want to try other options, there are alternative treatments for obesity and sleep apnea.

One alternative treatment for obesity is lifestyle changes, such as changes in diet and exercise. Several noninvasive treatments are available for sleep apnea, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and oral appliances. CPAP therapy involves wearing a mask over your nose and mouth while you sleep, which produces compressed air to keep your airway open. Oral appliances are special devices that fit into the mouth and adjust the position of the tongue and jaw to block the airway.


Another alternative treatment for sleep apnea is weight loss through diet and exercise. Although this approach may not be as effective as gastric bypass surgery for significant weight loss, it can still lead to improvement in sleep apnea symptoms, especially in mild to moderate cases.

In some cases, a combination of treatments may be necessary to effectively treat obesity and sleep apnea. For example, a patient may undergo gastric bypass to achieve significant weight loss, followed by CPAP therapy or oral appliances to control residual sleep apnea.


Gastric bypass surgery can be an effective treatment for obesity and sleep apnea, significantly improving sleep apnea symptoms and overall health. However, this is not a quick fix or a one-size-fits-all solution. Patients considering gastric bypass surgery should carefully weigh the risks and benefits and work with medical professionals to develop an individualized treatment plan.

In addition, gastric bypass surgery is not a substitute for lifestyle changes or ongoing treatment for sleep apnea. Gastric bypass patients must follow a lifelong diet and exercise program and may still need additional treatment for sleep apnea.

If you have problems with obesity or sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about your treatment options. With the right approach and support, you can achieve significant improvements in your health and quality of life.


Gastric bypass surgery is a weight loss surgery that involves creating a small stomach pouch and rerouting the small intestine to this pouch. The procedure can help with sleep apnea by reducing excess weight, which can improve breathing during sleep.
Excess weight around the neck and throat can put pressure on the airway, making it harder to breathe during sleep. Weight loss reduces this pressure and can decrease the severity of sleep apnea symptoms.
While gastric bypass surgery can significantly improve sleep apnea symptoms, it may not cure the condition entirely. In some cases, patients may still need to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or other treatments to manage their sleep apnea.
As with any surgery, gastric bypass surgery carries some risks, such as infection, bleeding, and complications related to anesthesia. Sleep apnea patients may be at a higher risk of developing complications during surgery, so it's important to discuss any concerns with a qualified surgeon.
Not all sleep apnea patients are suitable candidates for gastric bypass surgery. The decision to undergo the procedure should be made after a thorough evaluation by a medical professional, taking into consideration factors such as overall health, BMI, and the severity of sleep apnea
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