20 August 2008

  1. Death. As is the case with any major surgical procedure there is a risk of death associated with gastric bypass surgery and estimates fewer than 3 in 200 (1.5%) people die after surgery for weight loss The risk varies according to patient’s age, as well as with other medical conditions from which you are suffering and your general state of health.
  2. Pneumonia. If you are excessively overweight this puts extra stress on the chest cavity and lungs and produces an additional risk of contracting pneumonia after surgery.
  3. Narrowing of the opening between the stomach and small intestine.
  4. The connection between the stomach and the intestines narrows (stomal stenosis) 5% to 15% of the time, leading to nausea and vomitiong after eating.
  5. A leak along one of the staple lines in the stomach. A leak along the staple line in the stomach can lead to infection which is generally cured with antibiotics. Most cases heal in time but, occasionally, this leakage can be serious enough to need emergency surgery.
  6. Blood clots in the legs. The risk of blood clots occurring in the legs is most prevalent in the case of very overweight patients and, when blood clots do form, the situation can be serious. Sometimes blood clots will migrate to the lungs and lodge themselves in the arteries of the lungs producing a pulmonary embolism - a serious and life-threatening condition that damages the tissue of the lung.
  7. Dumping syndrome. Gastric bypass surgery may cause dumping syndrome, a condition in when food moves too rapidly through the stomach and intestine causing abdominal cramping dizziness, weakness, faintness, sweating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms are made worse by eating highly refined, high-calorie foods (like sweets). In some cases you may become so weak that you have to lie down until the symptoms pass.
  8. Gallstone. There is also a possibility that you may develop gallstones after gastric bypass. Sometimes the gallbladder is removed as part of the surgery. But if your gallbladder is not removed, then you may need to take medicine to prevent gallstones.
  9. Vitamin and mineral deficiency. In a gastric bypass, the part of the intestine where many minerals and vitamins are most easily absorbed is bypassed. Because of this, you may have a deficiency in iron, calcium, magnesium, or vitamins. An iron and vitamin B12 deficiency occurs more than 30% of the time. About 50% of those with an iron deficiency develop anemia. Deficiency of calcium can lead osteoporosis. To prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies, you may need to work with a dietitian to plan meals, and you may need to take extra vitamin B12 as pills, shots, or nasal spray.
  10. Hernia.
  11. Stomach ulcer. Ulcer develop 5% to 15% of the time.
  12. Intolerance to some food.

Despite the risks, for each problem case there are a thousand cases of slimmer and happier people walking around. So, if you are contemplating gastric bypass surgery, talk to your doctor and, while you should clearly consider the risks, don't dismiss gastric bypass surgery simply because of them.

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