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Bariatric Surgery Risks & Possible Complications


Risks
Bariatric surgery should not be considered until you and a doctor have looked at all other options. The best approach to bariatric surgery calls for discussion of the following with your doctor. Remember:

  • Bariatric surgery is not cosmetic surgery and should not be thought of in any way as cosmetic surgery.
  • Bariatric surgery does not involve the removal of adipose tissue (fat) by suction or surgical removal.
  • The patient and doctor should discuss the benefits and risks together.
  • The patient must commit to long-term lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, which are key to the success of bariatric surgery.
  • Problems after surgery may require more operations to correct them.

Complications
As with any surgery, there are immediate and long-term complications and risks. Your healthcare team can speak with you further about the benefits and risks. Possible risks can include, but are not limited to:

  • Bleeding*
  • Complications due to anesthesia and medications
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Dehiscence (separation of areas that are stitched or stapled together)
  • Infections
  • Leaks from staple lines
  • Marginal ulcers
  • Pulmonary problems
  • Spleen injury*
  • Stenosis (narrowing of a passage, such as a valve)
  • Death

* To control operative bleeding, removal of the spleen may be necessary.

According to the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery's 2004 Consensus Statement, the chances of complications associated with Roux-en-Y gastric bypass in the hands of a skilled surgeon is roughly 5 percent and the risk of death is roughly 0.5 percent. 

For lap band procedures, the same report stated that in the hands of skilled surgeons, the risk of complications is approximately 5 percent and risk of death is approximately 0.1 percent.

Possible Side Effects

  • Vomiting
  • Dumping syndrome
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Gallstones
  • Need to avoid pregnancy temporarily
  • Nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, excessive sweating, increased gas, and dizziness
 
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