Aspirus Bariatrics

Risks and Complications

There are risks and complications associated with gastric bypass surgery. The surgery has almost an 8 percent complication rate in the peri-operative period. Fortunately, life-threatening complications of bariatric surgery are rare. The national death rate for bariatric surgery is about 0.5 percent, or one out of every 200 patients.

Complications of bariatric surgery vary on whether the open, or traditional, incision is used, or laparascopic surgery is done. Talk with your surgeon about the percentage of patients who experience these complications. Complications of bariatric surgery include, but are not limited to:

  • An intestinal leak – This is serious and usually requires another surgeryto fix the problem.

  • Serious bleeding – This could require blood transfusion or further surgery.

  • Infection of the surgical wound – These complications can be difficult to treat and might require antibiotics and special wound care.

  • A pulmonary embolism, or blood clot that lodges in the lung – This is a serious complication that require the use of blood thinners and special stockings after surgery to lessen the chance of blood clots forming.

  • An abscess in the abdomen – This is a very rare infection inside your abdomen. Sometimes these abscesses can be drained and other times they require surgery to drain the infection.

  • Incisional hernias – Corrective hernia surgery can be performed after the patient has lost most of his/her weight.

  • Narrowing of the stomach and small intestine connection – This might become evident around four to eight weeks after surgery, but can usually be corrected with a procedure.

  • Blockage of your intestines – This is rare, but can occur because of scarring.

  • Ulcers – Some patients might develop an ulcer, which can be painful and cause bleeding.

  • Hair loss – This is often noticed three to six months after surgery, but is rarely noticeable to others, and usually stops after several weeks. The lost hair does grow back.

  • Nutritional deficiencies – Some patients may develop deficiencies like anemia, osteoporosis, and metabolic bone disease. Continually monitoring nutritional health and taking supplements is important in averting these deficiencies.

  • Lactose deficiency – Some patients may develop a lactose deficiency after surgery even if they didn’t have one before.

  • Gallstones.

  • Excess skin – Many patients choose to have the excess skin resulting from extreme, rapid weight loss removed by a plastic surgeon. Additional surgeries like this result in additional costs, which might or might not be covered by insurance.