Like most other surgeries, gastric bypass surgery is associated with a degree of risk. The surgery is associated with various complications, some of which are more serious than others such as internal bleeding or blood clots.
Complications after surgery
Patients who undergo gastric bypass surgery are at risk of the following complications immediately after surgery:
- Patients are at a 1% risk of death
- The above risk is raised to 2.5% if the obesity is accompanied by high blood pressure
- Similarly, the risk of death is 2.5% if the patient’s BMI is 50 or higher
- The risk of infection is approximately 5%
- The risk of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism is around 1%
- Internal bleeding also occurs in around 1% of individuals who undergo this surgery
Longer term complications
The rapid weight loss that is achieved following a gastric bypass is in itself associated with a number of adverse effects and health risks. Some of these are described below:
The skin does not revert back to the firmness and shape it was prior to the patient becoming obese. Residual skin folds can be upsetting to live with from a cosmetic angle as well as from a hygiene perspective because the folds can develop rashes or become infected. Cosmetic surgery is sometimes considered to remove the excess skin.
Patients who have had bariatric surgery develop stones (usually made of cholesterol) in their gall bladder in about 8% of cases.
This refers to when the channel that connects the stomach pouch to the small intestine becomes blocked by a piece of food. Stomal stenosis occurs in around 20% of those who have a gastric bypass and the most common symptom is vomiting. An endoscopy procedure can be performed to resolve the problem.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc