Benefits & Risks of Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery is major surgery. Patients who undergo any operation assume a certain amount of surgical risk however an obese patient’s risk for complication following major surgery is increased when compared to non-obese patients undergoing similar surgery. The occurrence of various complications after bariatric surgery is recognized and anticipated; although complications can be minimized, they cannot always be avoided.

Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery

The benefits of weight loss surgery are immense and millions of patients have successfully undergone the procedure. While bariatric surgery offers tangible benefits like weight loss and disease resolution, it also provides the patient with a more productive and happier life, improved self image and increased mobility.

  • Weight loss
  • A decrease in co-morbidities (obesity related diseases)
  • A decrease in medications for co-morbidities
  • Increase in positive body Image and mobility

Possible Complications

Below is a partial list of the complications patients must consider when thinking about proceeding with surgery. Complications will be listed on an operative consent form and will be reviewed prior to surgery.

  • Cardiovascular Problems (especially with unidentified pre-existing heart disease): heart attack, stroke or death.
  • Respiratory Problems: pneumonia, pulmonary embolus.
  • Wound Problems: infection in wound (<5%), hernia development (1% for laparoscopic).
  • Circulation Problems including blood clots in legs and blood clots migrating to lungs.
  • Stomach/Intestinal Problems: leak from stomach or intestinal surgical sites requiring additional surgery, intestinal blockage (1-2%), stoma stenosis from scarring (10%), dumping syndrome (cramping bloating, diarrhea after eating).
  • Nutritional Problems: excessive weight loss, vitamin and mineral deficiencies (may need ongoing medications or injections), hair loss, bone weakening, gallstones or kidney stones.
  • Injury to Nearby Organs: spleen-splenectomy (<1%), significant liver-bleeding (<1%), or potential for transfusions (<5%).
  • Numerous Other Less-Common Complications
  • Death Can Occur: For Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass (0.5 – 1%).
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