Bariatric surgery is for individuals who are at least 100 pounds overweight. It helps with losing weight and keeping it off, through a number of procedures, including lap band and gastric bypass. Like other surgeries, however, it has its risks and complications. A recent study conducted at the University Hospitals of Cleveland looked at the different risks associated with bariatric surgery, ranging from infection and bleeding, to tears and leaks. While bariatric surgery is still considered safe with few complications for most patients, it is important to understand these risks before going through with the surgery.
Short Term Complications
The first set of complications is those that might occur in the short term, or within days or weeks of your surgery. They are temporary but can occur after bariatric surgery. Some short term complications to be aware of include blood clots in the legs, a risk of pneumonia due to the stress put on your lungs and chest cavity during surgery, infections at the incision site and leaking from your staple lines.
Long Term Complications
The long term complications from bariatric surgery are less common, but tend to be more serious, so should be addressed. They include a hernia occurring near the incision site, narrowing of the opening of the stomach and intestine, an ulcer occurring in your abdomen where the small intestine is attached to the stomach and the potential to not absorbing as many vitamins and nutrients as before the surgery took place. All of these are very rare, but do occur in select patients. There is also a risk of dehydration since drinking a lot of liquids at one time is no longer an option. In the first 6 months after surgery, you might also experience dry skin, fatigue, body aches, hair loss, mood changes and emotional changes.
Another risk you need to look out for is non-insulinoma pancreatogenous hypoglycemia syndrome (NIPHS), otherwise known as post-surgery hypoglycemia. It is a serious complication that sometimes occurs after having gastric bypass. It causes you to have severely low blood sugar levels after eating, which then can cause seizures, confusion and vision disturbances. There are therapies for this condition, as well as going back into surgery to have it corrected.
Many of these risk and complications are common with any type of surgery, not just with bariatric surgery. Before choosing weight loss surgery, discuss all of the risks with your doctor and be sure you are prepared for them.