Bariatric Surgery Risks

What are the bariatric surgery risks? Bariatric surgery, a.k.a. weight loss surgery has become one of the fastest growing sectors in health care. It is estimated that today, 2 out of 3 adults in the US are either overweight or obese. This number is expected to reach 9 out of 10 by the year 2030. Obesity is no longer someone else’s problem. It is the problem affecting us if not those around us that we love. Bariatric surgery is not the end-all of obesity epidemic but it can be a great part of a solution for those who are well educated on how the surgery can help them as well as what the risks and benefits are.

Bariatric surgery, much like any other serious surgery, carries with it serious possible risks. One of the major risks is involving anesthesia. Successful anesthesia can be challenging in obese patients due to their size requiring more medication to achieve optimal results. The fat tissue in these patients can also sequester some of the needed medication and store them requiring yet more medication and slowing the clearance of these medications from the body. Bleeding and blood clots are also risks associated with bariatric surgeries as in other serious surgeries. The manipulation of the organs to clear the path for surgery is more difficult with thicker abdominal walls and fat deposits within the abdominal space add to the difficulties as well. Infections are also risks of bariatric surgery which can be more challenging to treat in obese patients.

Hernias, band slippage, and staple line failure are also real threats albeit the low incidence associated with them at about 4%.  These issues require corrective surgery and can be a fatal bariatric surgery risk if and when the gastric contents leak into the abdominal space.

Dumping syndrome is another one of the bariatric surgery risks.  In dumping syndrome, the stomach contents move too quickly along the gastrointestinal tract causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and sweating.  These symptoms post-bariatric surgery can be controlled by avoiding the offending foods and a dose of a sweet liquid such as fruit juice.  Diarrhea is usually easily managed with medication.  But most importantly, the guideline for diet after bariatric surgery must be followed strictly.  Following the prescribed diet after bariatric surgery can curb some of these issues. 

Nutritional deficiency is a risk associated with bariatric surgery post-op.  Iron, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 are among those nutrients that are easily deficient in the patients due to reduced absorption.  The bariatric surgery risk of nutritional deficiency is easily avoided with the consumption of supplements.

Bariatric surgery isn’t for everyone. Typically your BMI has to exceed 40 or if your BMI is 35+, you must present with severe weight-related health problems to be considered. Bariatric surgery is a major procedure and it is not a magic cure-all. Before considering bariatric surgery, it is important to understand what is involved, hat the risks are and what is expected of the patient. As much as it is important to choose the best possible surgeon, it is important to accept the fact that longer-term change in diet, exercise, and lifestyle must accompany the decision. Only a long-term commitment to a healthier life can ensure success. In short, the success is up to each patient.

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Comments 4 comments

Sage Williams profile image

Sage Williams 6 years ago

Great job on this article. I knew someone who had this type of surgery but never really knew the name of it.


terixf profile image

terixf 6 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for your appreciation of my hub on Bariatric Surgery Risks. I personally knew two people who had bariatric surgery. One of them had a great outcome, especially for her knees that had been ready to give up after years of having to carry all the extra weight and I can truthfully tell you bariatric surgery was a blessing for her. The other, unfortunately succumbed to septicemia. The risks of bariatric surgery are very real and I think it is key for each patient to understand them before making such an important decision.

elayne001 profile image

elayne001 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

I have a friend suffering from the effects of B surgery. She cannot absorb enough iron so has to have transfusions. It is scary and expensive. Good hub to warn those considering it.

terixf profile image

terixf 6 years ago from USA Author

Thank you so much for sharing your friend's experience. I do believe that in some cases of extremely obese patients bariatric surgery can be an option. However, I also realize that many people turn to it as a fast solution that takes the work out of losing weight. After all, any surgery carries with it risks and your friend is a good example of how difficult it can be when an extreme side effect presents itself after bariatric surgery. I think the best patient is one who does the homework and works with the medical staff to come to the best possible answer addressing one's conditions. Knowledge is power and when it comes to our bodies, we don't get to pick another one so treating it right always pays off.

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