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Gastric Bypass Complications

As with any surgery, there can be risks and complications associated with the gastric bypass procedure. Some of these complications are associated with both open and laparoscopic surgeries, but others are more specific to the method used for the procedure.

Possible Complications During and After Surgery

High blood pressureAs patients are undergoing gastric bypass surgery, there are a number of immediate concerns. Since most patients who opt for this treatment are drastically overweight, they often face even greater potential for complications. For example, there is a greater risk of immediate death for these patients at the following rates:

  • A 1 percent risk of death
  • A 2.5 percent risk of death if the patient has high blood pressure
  • A 2.5 percent risk of death if the patient has a BMI of 50 or higher

In addition to the possibility of death, gastric bypass patients are also at risk for several other complications, including:

  • A 5 percent risk of infection
  • A 1 percent risk of deep vein thrombosis
  • A 1 percent risk of pulmonary embolism
  • A 1 percent risk of internal bleeding
  • Possible adverse reactions to anesthesia
  • Organ injury during surgery

These are just the possible complications immediately following the procedure itself.

Possible Complications Following Surgery

While making it out of the operating room and being released from the hospital or medical facility following gastric bypass surgery means that the patient has not suffered any immediate complications, there are still a number of possible issues that can arise during long-term care. The surgery itself is simply the first step in a long process of changing and improving the patient’s body, and complications are a possibility every step of the way through the process.

Possible complications that can arise after the surgery include:
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  • Wound infection
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Gallstones
  • Dumping syndrome, causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Hernias
  • Malnutrition
  • Dyspepsia (indigestion)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Dehydration
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Intolerance to certain foods
  • Stomach perforation
  • Vomiting
  • Ulcers
  • Kidney stones

Some of these potential complications are more likely depending on the type of surgery. For example, open gastric bypass surgery patients are more likely to face organ injury and incisional hernias, whereas laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery patients are more prone to bowel obstruction and gastrointestinal hemorrhaging. Of course, all of these complications are possible with any type of gastric bypass surgery.

Reducing the Risk of Complications

These potential issues can be very intimidating for someone about to undergo this procedure. Choosing the right type of surgery for an individual patient’s body and needs can drastically reduce the likelihood of these complications. All procedures should be carefully discussed with the surgeon and treating physician before, throughout and after the procedure to maintain the utmost safety.

It is also important to remember that the complication rates vary widely and depend largely on the skill and experience of the surgeon and on the patient’s physical and mental preparation before the surgery. Working together, doctors and patients can expect the best possible outcomes for this life-changing surgical procedure.