Weight-Loss Surgery: Risks and Complications
Your Guide to a Safe and Healthy Bariatric Surgery
As with any surgical operation, weight-loss surgery carries a certain degree
of inherent risk. The most severe complications that may occur with bariatric surgery include
intestinal leakage, internal bleeding, pulmonary embolus, and, although very rare,
We have been able to minimize the frequency and severity of both major and minor complications by:
- Carefully screening each patient we see for underlying medical conditions that may lead to complications after surgery. We then optimize your health prior to surgery by treating any condition that may increase your risk.
- Your operation will be done by two laparoscopic bariatric surgeons in order to minimize the time of the operation, and to maximize the chance of it being done laparoscopically.
- After surgery, we see you several times each day and once you are discharged we are directly available by pager or cell phone. This allows for and encourages an open line of communication so that serious problems are diagnosed and treated immediately.
Our approach has proven effective. We have had no leaks in our last 250 gastric bypass patients and only one death in our 650 patients.
The following is a list of possible side-effects and complications to
consider before having weight-loss surgery. We will discuss these in more detail at your office consultation.
1. Anastomotic leak (leak from a connection made to the bowel, usually
requires re-operation and long hospital stay)
2. Anastomotic stricture (narrowing or obstruction at an intestinal
connection resulting in vomiting)
3. Bowel obstruction/strangulation/internal hernia/ischemic bowel
possibly needing removal (associated with pain and vomiting, usually
4. Injury to an abdominal or pelvic organ/structure (especially
the liver, spleen, pancreas, bile duct, stomach, esophagus, colon,
bowel, diaphragm, urinary bladder, nerve or blood vessel)
5. Conversion to an open operation (due to bleeding, poor exposure,
large liver, tension on intestines, etc.)
6. Incisional hernia (more likely if procedure is done open)
7. Infection or abscess (due to a leak, spillage of intestinal
contents, underlying infection, etc)
8. Bleeding and the potential need for blood transfusion. Blood
transfusion carries the risk of infection with bacteria, parasites
(malaria), and viruses (hepatitis, HIV/AIDS).
9. Need for additional surgery or procedures to treat any complication
that may occur
10. Prolonged hospital stay or readmission may be needed to treat
11. Deep Vein Thrombosis (blood clot in a vein)
12. Pulmonary Embolus (blood clot going to lung, fatal 30% of
13. Atelectasis (lung collapse causing fevers, possibly pneumonia)
14. Pneumonia, lung infection and fluid around the lungs (pleural
15. Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
18. Rhabdomyalysis (breakdown of the muscle in the body)
19. Pressure ulcer or decubitus (skin breakdown, may require skin
20. Allergic reaction to anesthesia, medications or materials
21. Nerve or ligament injury from positioning or lying on the
22. Kidney failure and/or the need for dialysis
23. Need for ICU care
24. Need for a ventilator (machine to help you breathe)
25. Multi-system organ failure (liver, kidneys, lungs, etc.)
26. Poor cosmetic results (ugly scar, keloid, unattractive incisions,
27. Chronic pain, discomfort, numbness, burning or tingling in
the incisions or anywhere else (abdomen, back, extremities)
28. Transient or chronic nausea/vomiting due to strictures, gastroparesis,
food intolerance, etc.
29. Dysphagia (difficulty or painful swallowing)
30. Diarrhea, constipation, foul smelling gas and stools
31. Heartburn (acid reflux) symptoms
32. Ulcers or gastritis
33. Intestinal perforation due to ulcer, foreign body, obstructed
34. Development of food intolerances/loss of taste
35. Dumping syndrome (abdominal pain, heart palpitations, sweating,
36. Hair loss or thinning
37. Development of malnutrition or vitamin deficiency
39. Metabolic bone disease (loosing calcium from the bone because
of inadequate intake and supplementation) with possible osteoporosis,
secondary hyperparathyroidism and bone fractures
40. Failure to lose an adequate amount of weight
41. Loss of too much weight
42. Development of loose or redundant skin
43. Sterility or inability to become pregnant
44. Increased ability to become pregnant
45. Birth defects or fetal injury if you become pregnant. This is
less likely once weight has stabilized and laboratory tests
are normal. Usually, about 2 years after surgery.
46. Postoperative depression or other psychological reaction to
47. Need to revise or reverse the procedure at some point in the
future because of nutritional deficiencies, excessive weight loss,
pain or other reasons
48. Extended disability, financial hardship as a result of complications
related to weight loss surgery
49. Parts of your stomach and/or intestines will be inaccessible
50. Death (1% nationwide, ours is 0.2%[1 in 650.])
Learn more about the benefits and results of bariatric surgery.
Contact us via email or phone or register for an appointment.
Use our free online bmi calculator,
meet a Dr. Cirangle, or read about the duodenal switch or morbid