Risks by Weight Loss Surgery Type

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of the adult population in the United States is considered obese. Along with obesity come many related illnesses and comorbidities that affect a person’s quality of life. Individuals that are obese might also have a higher risk of stroke, heart disease, various cancers, Type II Diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea and joint and muscle pain.

In order to be considered obese, an individual must have a body mass index (BMI) of over 40 or 35 or higher with an obesity-related medical condition. In order to be eligible for weight loss surgery, individuals must have attempted and failed at other weight loss efforts. The individual must also be healthy enough to safely have surgery and be prepared for the lifestyle change associated with a healthy and active life.

There are several types of weight loss surgeries – gastric banding, gastric bypass, gastric plication, gastric sleeve and duodenal switch. Each of the surgical procedures has their own related risks and complications.

Here you will find information on each of the surgeries and the risks associated with each procedure.

Gastric Bypass

Because the surgery is so involved, the typical mortality rate is slightly higher than other procedures at .2% – 5%. Some of these risks are short term and directly related to actual surgery while others are long-term issues. Some of the possible complications and risks associated with gastric bypass include:

  1. Bleeding;
  2. Blood clots;
  3. Hypoglycemia, a dangerously low blood sugar;
  4. Pulmonary embolism, the blockage or one or more pulmonary arteries within the lungs;
  5. Bowel obstruction;
  6. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies;
  7. Gallstones;
  8. Stenosis, narrowing of hard valves;
  9. GERD;
  10. Ulcers, a lesion on the inside of the stomach.

Gastric Banding

Some of the most common risks associated with gastric banding surgery include:

  1. Band slippage requiring Revisional surgeries;
  2. Infection;
  3. Excessive bleeding;
  4. Stomach pouch enlargement;
  5. Deflation of the balloon in the band itself;
  6. Blocked stomach outlet;
  7. GERD;
  8. Discomfort;
  9. Nausea or vomiting;
  10. Dumping syndrome, a condition where the body cannot digest food properly, so patients feel nauseous, throw up, have diarrhea and have stomach cramps.

Duodenal Switch

Since duodenal switch surgery is quite involved, there are some risks associated with a procedure this extreme. Some of the possible risks associated with the weight loss procedure are:

  1. Blood clots;
  2. Dehydration from swelling around the bowel and stomach;
  3. Leaking of bile into stomach;
  4. Infection;
  5. Difficulty consuming liquids after surgery;
  6. Vitamin deficiencies;
  7. Severe chronic diarrhea;
  8. Smelling gas and/or stool;
  9. Malabsorption of calcium and Vitamin D;
  10. Carbohydrate adsorption causing weight gain.

Gastric Plication

Some of the most common risks associated with gastric plication surgery are:

  1. Rupture from stretching;
  2. Leaking of stomach from folds;
  3. Stretching and/or expansion of the stomach;
  4. Stomach blockage;
  5. Suture rupture;
  6. Bleeding;
  7. Blood clots;
  8. Infection

Gastric Sleeve

Gastric sleeve does have many risks associated with it. Here are some of the most common ones:

  1. Infection from surgery;
  2. Leaks at staple lines;
  3. Psychological conditions relating to sudden weight loss;
  4. Depression;
  5. Blood clots;
  6. Internal bleeding from surgery;
  7. Difficulty breathing;
  8. Anesthesia reactions;
  9. Stomach perforation;
  10. Malnutrition;
  11. Hernia;
  12. Bowel obstruction;
  13. Ulcers;
  14. Gallstones;
  15. Dumping syndrome;
  16. Low blood sugar.

While all weight loss surgeries can be risky, the patient must assess their own risks with the potential benefits from the procedure. Most surgeries help patients reach 77% of their excess body weight loss goal within two years following surgery. Lifestyle changes are inevitable and will help the patient lose weight quicker and more safely.

Weight loss surgery can improve a patient’s life expectancy dramatically as well as their quality of life. Before deciding whether or not weight loss surgery is the right approach for you, discuss the options with your primary care physician. You will want to understand all of the risks and complications associated with each surgical procedure.

Risks by Weight Loss Surgery Type
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