Bariatric Surgery Risks and Complications
As with all major surgeries, bariatric surgery comes with risks and complications. And as with many procedures, the healthier and more prepared you are going into surgery, the better your outcomes will be.
All abdominal operations carry the risks of bleeding, infection in the incision, deep venous thrombosis of the legs (blood clots), lung problems (pneumonia, pulmonary embolisms), strokes or heart attacks, anesthetic complications, and blockage or obstruction of the intestine. These risks are greater in obese patients.
Statistically, the risk of death during weight loss surgeries is less than 1 percent.
The Right Procedure Reduces Risk
One of the most important factors in reducing your risk is to work closely with your surgeon in selecting the right type of procedure for your unique health needs such as:
- Current BMI and weight loss goals
- Ability to restrict your diet
- Other health complications like diabetes or high blood pressure
- Current medications
- Level of mobility
Each type of weight loss surgery carries its own benefits and risks. See specific considerations by procedure listed below:
- Duodenal Switch
The duodenal switch procedure is highly technical. It is not offered by many surgeons due to the high level of technical skill required and higher level of risks.
- Some preoperative weight loss is critical to help complete the operation laparoscopically.
- Potential complications include diarrhea, protein and vitamin deficiencies, and intestinal blockages.
- About duodenal switch surgery
- Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Sleeve gastrectomies are gaining favor as one of the safest procedures with the least amount of complications. Potential complications may include:
- Leaks, reflux and inadequate weight loss.
- Remaining stomach pouch may expand over time, leading to regaining weight and warranting additional stomach removal.
- About vertical sleeve gastrectomy.
- LAP-BAND® or REALIZE® Band Surgery
- Potential complications include band slippage, erosion, breakage, prolapse and infection.
- 10-year removal or reoperation rate in approximately 25% of patients.
- Requires lifetime supplementation with vitamins and calcium.
- Need to restrict certain types of food and limited drinking fluids with meals.
- About gastric banding surgery
- Roux-en-Y Surgery
Performed for more than 30 years in the United States with a strong track-record. Late complications may include ulcers, intestinal obstructions, and vitamin deficiency.
- Patients may experience "dumping syndrome" when eating concentrated sugars and high fat foods, and must avoid these foods after surgery.
- Patient must take vitamins and other supplements, as prescribed by the physician, for the rest of their lives.
- About Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
Risks and Benefits of Bariatric Surgery Video