My Bariatric Life: How Safe Is Gastric-Bypass Weight-Loss Surgery?

Patient Expert

First, directly to the good news: Early complication rates for gastric bypass surgery is quite low. A major study conducted by one of the country's best bariatric centers has concluded that the surgery is not only legitimate but relatively safe.

Now that the good news has been shared, let us be aware that this surgery should not be anticipated as a magic wand for victory nor a simple and easy method for success. Success is seldom a gift that has been waiting for little more than to be unwrapped and enjoyed. Success is normally the fruit of some kind of labor, a devotion to a cause. It is the end result of sweat and determination. Life changes which include improved eating habits and a program of exercise are standard. The ride is not free.

The above-mentioned study found that the risk for death following the procedure was 0.3 percent with 4.3 percent of all patents studied having some kind of complication. The numbers are reassuring. It was also discovered that those at most risk for complications were those with histories of blood clots and sleep apnea. Complications also presented to those who had trouble walking 200 feet even while using a cane or those who were very obese.

It is not unusual for those who suffer from obesity to have sleep apnea, the snoring and collapse of the upper airway during sleep. Apnea promotes the snorting and gasping for breath that sleepers experience and is associated with high blood pressure, vascular changes, and greater risk for heart disease. Such factors contribute to surgical risk.

Venous blood clots are the most prominent regarding bariatric surgery. The platelets that cause blood to coagulate after one has been cut are responsible for clotting. During clotting, blood also coagulates but does so inside the body. Should a clot break free, it can get stuck in smaller blood vessels in the body and prevent oxygen from reaching other body parts. Surgery normally increases the risk for blood clot formation although certain surgeries (including bariatric surgery) can improve the risk factors.

Obesity makes many types of surgery more difficult or more hazardous. An example is that weight gain prior to surgery can produce an enlarged liver, thereby making surgical access to the stomach more difficult. Livers that are fatty are heavy, more brittle, and more susceptible to injury during surgery. Establishing (or at least giving an earnest attempt to establish) diet restriction and self-care prior to surgery is an indicator as to how well the client will respond to any post-surgery regiment. Should a client prove to be non-compliant prior to the procedure, many insurers and surgeons believe  the appropriateness of the surgery should be questioned.

But I digress. The procedure is popular and not without  good reasons. At present, it is the second most common abdominal surgical procedure performed in the United States. Therefore, should you choose to have such a surgery, be selective in your choices. A study at the University of Washington discovered that 1 in 50 people die within one month of gastric bypass surgery and the number increases dramatically if the surgeon is inexperienced. It is necessary to gather as much information about the surgeon's background as possible. In addition, a common problem in bariatric surgery is insufficient post-operative care.

Although weight-loss surgery is considered relatively safe, it might be wise to evaluate the facility where you will be having the surgery, discover how many procedures the surgeon performing the operation has done, not the complication and mortality rate, and ask what is done should complications present.

The decision to pursue surgery has its' difficulties, but I believe the capabilities of all good men and women will   allow the better choice. Good luck and good health to all.

Up next: Potential Complications After Gastric Bypass Surgery** Wink  Please "heart" this article  to support future weight-loss surgery topics on HealthCentral. Thank you!**

My Story...

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.