gastric bypass
surgery risks

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Gastric Bypass Surgery Risks

Gastric bypass surgery may be an option if you suffer from morbid obesity and have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight on diet and exercise programs and are not likely to successfully lose weight without a surgical procedure.

Your commitment to diet and exercise must be very strong because even after the surgery, you must adhere to these lifestyle changes. Otherwise, complications from the surgery are likely to develop.

Gastric bypass surgery has been reported to improve several co-morbid conditions such as:

  • Glucose intolerance and frank diabetes mellitus
  • Sleep apnea and obesity associated hypoventilation
  • Hypertension
  • Serum lipid abnormalities
  • Osteoarthritis

The gastric bypass procedure may be considered for obese individuals who have:

  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more. BMI is a calculation based on height and weight that is used to determine whether you are of normal weight or are overweight. Someone with a BMI of 40 or more is at least 100 pounds over their recommended weight. A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 25.
  • A BMI of 35 or more along with a life-threatening illness that can be made better with weight loss, such as sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

If you are considering having the gastric bypass surgical procedure done, it is important that you understand the risks involved. At the time a decision is made to have the surgery, you will be asked to sign a consent form stating you understand all the risks involved. You are encouraged to ask any questions at the time of your consultation. Some of the risks are as follows:

  • Bleeding
  • Infections
  • Follow-up surgeries to correct complications, or to remove excess skin
  • Gallstones due to significant weight loss in a short amount of time
  • Gastritis (inflammation of the lining of the stomach)
  • Vomiting from eating more than the stomach pouch can hold
  • Iron or vitamin B12 deficiencies (if they occur) can lead to anemia
  • Calcium deficiency (if it occurs) can contribute to the development of early osteoporosis or other bone disorders

Follow up surgeries may be less likely if gastric bypass is performed with a laparoscope. Another common complication from gastric bypass is "dumping syndrome." The symptoms often include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloated feeling
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating

You can lessen these symptoms by following your dietitian's guidelines very carefully, especially during the first two months after surgery. Statistics show that 1 in 300 die from gastric bypass surgery. People who suffer from morbid obesity can have other serious medical conditions which are related to or caused by being overweight. The higher your BMI is, the more likely it is that other medical problems will exist.

Another risk factor is age, although this increases the need for surgery there is generally a higher risk. Any medical procedure that involves humans and reactions to stress, trauma, drugs, and other causes, unpredictable negative results can and will occur. Gastric bypass surgery should be considered only after many attempts with other diet control and exercise have failed, although keep in mind that diet and exercise will be required before and after this surgery.

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