Gastric bypass surgery is a major procedure that carries with it the potential for numerous complications and undesired side effects. Gastric bypass risks include standard surgical complications, postoperative problems, as well as ongoing psychological and physical symptoms. Doctors who perform gastric bypass surgery frequently require their patients to undergo a screening process in which they are evaluated for, and informed of, these gastric bypass risks.
Like all surgeries, weight loss surgery is associated with a number of risks, including those of infection, negative reactions to anesthesia, and physician error. Patients may have problems during the surgery, such as a stroke or heart attack. For individuals who have significant health problems or whose obesity makes it difficult for them to move, recovery from gastric bypass surgery can be difficult. For example, if a patient has difficulty walking, she may not be able to move as well after surgery and can be at risk of blood clots. Patients may also suffer from pressure sores during their recovery, particularly if it is difficult for them to change position while in their hospital bed.
Some gastric bypass risks are connected to the nature of the surgery. There is a possibility that leaks could develop in the stapled stomach or rerouted intestines. If this happens, infection can set in, necessitating emergency surgery to save the patient's life.
Other gastric bypass risks include digestive issues, such as dumping syndrome and malnutrition. In dumping syndrome, food moves through the digestive system very quickly, which can result in extreme discomfort and nausea. While gastric bypass patients must typically consume nutritional supplements in order to prevent deficiencies, in some cases they may still experience symptoms of malnutrition. Very quick weight loss can also result in gallbladder problems, which may require additional surgery to remove the gallbladder.
Many people who have had gastric bypass surgery must also struggle with psychological and behavioral issues. When a person loses a significant amount of weight, particularly if he has been overweight all his life, this can present challenges as he adjusts to a new way of life in relating to other people. If the patient is unable or unwilling to permanently modify her lifestyle so as to maintain her weight loss, there is the possibility that the effects of the surgery can be undone, resulting in a regaining of the lost weight. If this happens, the patient may be eligible for another surgery, but the risks in such situations are often magnified, and some insurance companies will not cover a second surgery.