There are always risks with surgery. And there are steps you can take to minimize your risks. Complications can’t always be prevented but the risks can be minimized. You and your doctor will weigh any potential complications against the risks of your not having the procedure at all.
Complications of bariatric surgery include, but are not limited to:
- Bleeding from a tear to the liver, spleen, or blood vessels
- Bowel obstruction, requiring further surgery
- Cardiac problems. Greatest risk in patients who are the most overweight, or who have cardiac disease
- Complications due to anesthesia and medications.
- Deep vein thrombosis. Blood clots in the large leg veins. They become serious when they float up into the blood vessels of the lungs. Prevention methods include wearing compression stockings, taking blood thinners and walking as soon as possible after surgery.
- Dehiscence or rupture of a wound
- Gastrointestinal dysfunction, such as long-term nausea or food intolerance.
- Hernia. One of the more common complications requiring another operation to fix
- Infections of the wounds
- Leaks from a break in the staple line between the stomach pouch and small intestine
- Marginal ulcers in the pouch
- Pulmonary (lung) problems, such as pneumonia or fluid on the lungs. These can often be prevented by getting the patient up and about as soon as possible.
- Spleen injury or tear. Most in common in patients who have had a previous surgery.*
- Stenosis or narrowing of the connection between stomach pouch and intestine, which may require a procedure to correct
- Hair loss or thinning of hair—this is temporary
NOTE: If complications occur during laparoscopic surgery, the doctor may switch to open surgery.
Risks Specific to Type of Surgery
- Not losing “enough” weight. Though most patients lose enough weight to significantly improve their health, some are not happy with the results. This can often be avoided by having realistic expectations prior to surgery.
- Emotional stress. Bariatric surgery leads to many changes, positive and negative, which taken together can become stressful. However, you can take several steps to prepare yourself mentally for the challenges.
Reduce Your Risks
Of course the staff and surgeons at Strong Health take every possible measure to prevent complications. But there are many things you can do to reduce your risks as well.
- Don’t smoke. Ever.
- Move around. Get up and walk as soon and as much as possible after surgery. This reduces the risk of blood clots and improves lung function.
- Long before surgery, start practicing the eating habits that will be necessary after surgery to achieve success: counting calories, reading labels, preparing weekly menus, etc.
- Exercise. The stronger the heart and lungs, the better the body will tolerate surgery.
- Practice your new way of eating. Get accustomed to the Gastric Bypass Diet.
- Attend support group meetings. Learn from others.