Any surgery is often accompanied by complications or at least side effects. The decision to pursue gastric bypass surgery falls almost exclusively on the individual and wanting to improve the quality of a life is a just pursuit. Prior to bursting from the starting gate, take a moment or two (or however many is necessary to protect your interest and increase your insight) to reflect on the full picture. Challenges may accompany the decisions you make, but, then again, they often do, don't they?
Keep in mind that about 5% of gastric bypass patients will experience some sort of complication while another 10% will experience a problem that requires the intervention of a doctor or nurse. Almost all who have the surgery will experience some kind of side effect, and complications can be either short term or long term.
Some common short term effects are risk for pneumonia following the surgery,
blood clots in the legs, incision infections, or a leak at one of the staple lines.
Pneumonia can result due to the additional stress that had been placed on the chest cavity and lungs. It is possible that blood clots could form in the legs and then move to the lungs. This is rare and special stockings or inflatable boots are used to improve circulation during surgery. To minimize the risk of clotting, it is recommended to exercise the legs and promote blood flow. Moving the feet up and down while lying in bed can also be useful. Approximately 2-3% of patients who have any operation will have an infection at the incision area. The actual opening of the incision is quite rare though. A leak at one of the staple lines in the stomach is quite rare and most are treated non-surgically with antibiotics or drainage. Leaks occur in under 2% of all cases.
Long-term complications can include hernias, ulcers, and the inability to absorb certain vitamins and minerals.
Internal hernias and twisted bowels are problematic for about 3-5% of bypass patients. Rerouted intestines are tacked to fatty tissue, but when significant weight is lost the tissue can disappear. The unattached intestines are now free to move, and the pain can be severe. Surgery is required to address the problem.
While less than 1% of patients get ulcers, they can be quite painful. An ulcer can develop where the small intestine attaches to part of the stomach. Ibuprofin or other NSAIDs can cause ulcers and should be avoided.
After surgery, certain minerals and vitamins can no longer be absorbed. Follow-ups with a physician are needed to determine which supplements will be used.
Potential side effects from bypass surgery are dumping (nausea, hot flashes, cramps, or diarrhea), vomiting, constipation, gas, hair loss, menstrual problems, and a few others.
So there it is, in part anyway. If you find yourself hiding beneath your bed or in your closet at this point, please come out. This may seem like a lot, but it is no more than the territory where success lies. Remember, knowledge is power, and it is always to personal advantage to be prepared. Many before you have undergone the procedure as will many after you. Your decision is when is your time. Courage and good luck to you all.
Questions for the Community
Has the fear of complications after bariatric weight loss surgery kept you from having it? If you've had gastric bypass surgery, did you or did you not have complications? Please share your experience and feelings below. Thanks!
Up next: Is Gastric Bypass the Right Weight-Loss Surgery for You?
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You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.
Published On: January 17, 2012