Complications of Gastric Bypass Surgery

Complications of Gastric Bypass Surgery can occur right at the time of surgery or perhaps even years later .

When considering having gastric bypass surgery or any bariatirc weight loss procedure you need to consider the complications and risks involved. Because with any surgery there are risks !

Complications of gastric bypass surgery or any surgical procedure that involves anesthesia and inserting instruments into a body cavity can lead to problems.  Unanticipated blood loss,  abnormal heart rhythms,  respiratory problems, inadvertent organ injury or death may occur during any surgery.

In the immediate postoperative period, blood clots, heart attack, pneumonia and surgical wound infections are additional dangers. These complications are unusual and can be reduced by choosing a surgeon who has extensive experience performing gastric bypasses.

Laparoscopic roux en y gastric bypass surgery is less invasive then regular open gastric bypass surgery. Therefore fewer complications occur. Especially in the actual surgical phase. ( I had laparocopic RNY gastric bypass)

Most gastric bypass surgeries are done laparosocpicly today.  At the Cleveland Clinic where I had my surgery done 3 and 1/2 years ago Laparoscopic roux en y gastric bypass was performed in 75% of all bariatric surgery patients.

The research I am writing about is therefore based on Laparoscopic  gastric bypass surgery.

Complications of gastric bypass surgery ( Are complicated for me to write about and for the average person to understand. The information I am writing about such complications is from my own personal research and understanding of that research. Please discuss these risks and complications with your doctor!!! )

Bleeding complications occur in fewer then 4% of patients. They can be difficult to diagnose when they are internal.

 Anastomotic leaks are dreaded complications of gastric bypass surgery that occur 0% to 5% of the time. They may occur around one of the sites where your stomach or intestine was cut and reattached. They are fatal in about 30% of cases. Tachycardia( a rapid heart rate greater then 120 bpm) is usually the only sign of the problem.  Most such leaks occur within the first few days after surgery. 

Wound infection occurs in fewer then 5% of laparoscopic gastric bypass cases.

Another one of the complications of gastric bypass surgery is Thromboembolism, deep vein thrombosis. (blood clots) The rate of deep vein thrombosis after laparoscopic gastric bypass is about 0% to 1.3%. Pulmonary embolism ranges from 0% to 1.1%.

Small bowel obstruction, usually the result of twisting or entrapment of a loop of small intestine within the abdominal cavity, is another one of the potential complications of gastric bypass. Bowel obstuctions can also occur from adhesions or internal hernias.  

Complications of gastric bypass surgery also include anastomotic strictures, which are constrictions at the sites where your intestine was divided and reattached. They develop in up to 16 % of people undergoing laparoscopic gastric bypass. Vomiting or swallowing difficulties may be the only sign of a stricture, which could require another surgery to repair.

Marginal ulcers are post surgical ulcers that often occur at the site where the stomach pouch is joined to the small intestine. This gastric bypass complication is usually treated with acid suppression therapy . They develop in laparoscopic patients 0.7% to 5.1% of the time. 

Weight loss after gastric bypass surgery is accompanied by a rise in the incidence of gallstones. 38%  to  52%  of patients develop stones within 1 year of surgery.  Another 15% to 28% of all patients require urgent gall bladder removal within 3 years of gastric bypass. ( Another one of the complications of gastric bypass,)  Some surgeons advocate gall bladder removal at the time of the gastric bypass surgery itself because of the high incidence of gall stones following surgery. However doing this additional surgery puts the patient at additional, unnecessary risk. ( My surgeon felt removing my gall bladder was not necessary )  3 and 1/2 years later I have had no problems. I was given 600 mg. of ursodiol daily for 6 months following my surgery. This drastically reduces the incidence of gallstone formation. 

Of course probably one of the most talked about complications of gastric bypass surgery is the   dreaded      dumping syndrome.  This is a reaction to eating too much or eating too quickly or eating something too sweet or greasy!  You usually become sick quite rapidly.  You may vomit or have diarrhea or both.  You may become light headed and  begin sweating. Your heart may race a bit.  Everyone reacts a little differently.  It is an awful experience and you just feel terrible and wish it was over.  It usually lasts an hour or longer.

Some people also have frequent problems with gas, diarrhea and constipation. I personally take probiotics daily. They seem to help keep things in balance. I do need to take several stool softeners a day to avoid constipation along with the fairly frequent use of vegetable laxatives. 

Al Roker explains one of his complications of gastric bypass surgery.  Cute article and video. 

More long term complications of gastric bypass surgery are nutritional deficiencies.

Because  the stomach and duodenum are bypassed during gastric bypass surgery your body is no longer able to absorb important vitamins, minerals and other nutrients it needs as it did before surgery. 

Patients only taking a single multivitamin were found to develop deficiencies.

Iron deficiency occurs in 13% to 52% of patients within 2 - 5 years after gastric bypass.

Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs in up to 37% of patients.

Calcium deficiency occurs in up to 10% of patients. Leading to increased bone turn over and decreased bone mass as early as 3 to 9 months after surgery. 

Vitamin D deficiency occurs in up to 50 % of patients. 

Here is a list of the Vitamins I take.

Finally one of the complications of gastric bypass surgery or any weight loss procedure is one that many people are faced with after they have lost a considerable amount of weight.  Worse yet sometimes insurance will cover this problem and sometimes not.                                                                                          

Excess skin                                                                                                                                                                 This can be a devastating problem for many people who have undergone weight loss surgery and ultimately lost a lot of weight.  Most of the time when a person looses a substantial amount of weight the skin is left sagging from their body. . 

Plastic Surgery after Gastric Bypass and other weight loss surgeries is an important and often times much needed procedure in a person's full recovery.  Both physical and mental recovery. 

Complications of gastric bypass surgery are real and sometimes life threatening! 

Please discuss risk factors, concerns and complication questions with your doctor !!!