Gastric Bypass Complications

by Trudy Despain
(last updated March 13, 2012)

When diet and exercise fail for whatever reason in the battle to lose weight and a patient's overweight condition carries enormous health risks, doctors offer bariatric surgery as an immediate weight loss solution. There are different kins of bariatric surgery depending on the situation of the patient. The most common is called Roux-en-Y (roo-en-y). The surgeon reduces the size of the stomach by cutting across the top of it, sealing it off from the rest of the stomach. The result is a pouch the size of a walnut. A full size stomach can usually hold about 3 pints of food but a post-gastric bypass stomach only holds about one ounce. More changes are made as the surgeon cuts the small intestine and sews part of it directly onto the pouch. This done to allow food to bypass most of the stomach and first section of the small intestine. This reduces the amount of nutrients that can be apsorbed from each meal making it more difficult for the body use and store calories.

Gastric bypass surgery is a major procedures that can pose serious risks and side effects. These risks must be considered when determining if this surgery is right for you.

The Mayo Clinic recently released a list of possible risks associated with gastric bypass surgery. The List includes:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection
  • Adverse reactions to anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Lung or breathing problems
  • Leaks in your gastrointestinal system
  • Death (rare)

There are also long term risks and complications of weight-loss surgery. Some of them are:

  • Bowel obstruction
  • Dumping syndrome, causing diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Gallstones
  • Hernias
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Malnutrition
  • Stomach perforation
  • Ulcers
  • Vomiting
  • Death (rare)

The list of possible complications to bypass surgery is daunting. With "death" being one possible outcome it's no wonder doctors only offer this as a last resort effort when helping someone overcome severe obesity. But knowing the complications is only half the story. It is also important to understand how frequently those complications have occurred. When clinicians perform clinical trials on medications and medical procedures they are required to list every side effect and complication observed by every participant in the study. So if someone who was undergoing a clinical trial for, say, Viagra, had a heart attack while taking Viagra, the results for the trial would indicate that a possible complication to Viagra is heart attack. This is required even if the heart attack is caused by other factors such as lifestyle or dietary habits prior to taking Viagra.

In the case of gastric bypass surgeries, one study released in 2010 by the National Institutes of Health found that as few as 4.1% of study participants experienced serious complications from the surgical procedure and 9 participants actually died from direct surgical complications. Deeper study found that those who experienced complications or death were at the highest risk or had the worst health going into the surgery.

Knowing the risks is associated with gastric bypass surgery is only the first step in determining if it is a good choice for you. Know the facts and the reasoning behind the facts in order to make an educated decision.

Author Bio

Trudy Despain

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