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Gastric Bypass Surgery Complications

Learn about possible gastric bypass surgery complications in this Howcast video about bariatric surgery to treat obesity.


Let's talk a little bit about the complications of gastric bypass surgery. Before I do that though, I do want to stress that gastric bypass has become a very safe surgery, and most likely the risks of being obese outweigh the risks of the surgery. When we talk about the potential risks of gastric bypass surgery we like to compare it to the risks of other commonly performed surgery.

It's important to realize that gastric bypass surgery is very safe. In fact, the mortality rate or the risk of dying is less than half a percent. Take this and compare it to say, prostate surgery, where the mortality risk is greater than that. It's approximately half a percent, or 0.5 percent, so while complications are possible after gastric bypass surgery, overall it's a very safe and effective surgery.

One of the major risks of any major weight loss surgery is blood clots that can occur postoperatively. Patients who are obese are at a higher risk of developing blood clots. You want to make sure that if you do undergo gastric bypass that you're up walking around, as soon as you can after surgery to help decrease that risk.

Specific to gastric bypass, one of the complications that can occur is what's called a leak, so in gastric bypass we use a stapler that cuts your stomach and makes a small pouch. In addition, there are two areas where your intestines are cut and reconnected. If those connections or if that staple line doesn't heal properly, you could potentially have what's called a leak, which in essence is an infection. If that happens, your surgeon will need to most likely perform another procedure to fix it.

Another risk or complication that can happen after gastric bypass are ulcers. You want to make sure that you avoid NSAIDS, things like aspirin and ibuprofen, after gastric bypass surgery. In addition, you want to make sure that you don't smoke and that you don't drink an excessive amount of alcohol.

One last potential complication of gastric bypass is an intestinal obstruction. If you've had gastric bypass surgery and you're experiencing abdominal pain, even several years later, make sure you speak with your surgeon, because you could potentially have a blockage in your intestines, which would require another surgery to correct it. These are only some of the potential complications that can happen after gastric bypass surgery. But remember overall, it is a very safe and effective surgery.

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