Skip to Content

  • Search

View Additional Section Content

Risks of Bariatric Surgery

The surgeon will discuss the following risks in great detail, and you will have an opportunity to ask questions.

As with any surgery, there are risks. But in most cases, surgical weight loss risks are outweighed by the risk of continuing to be morbidly obese. The risk of death from bariatric surgery is about 0.5 percent. Major causes of such fatalities may include pulmonary embolism, gastrointestinal leakage in the areas where the intestine has been reconnected and cardiopulmonary problems including myocardial infarction.

Immediate complications may include infection, bleeding, gastrointestinal leakage, injury to other organs, pneumonia, blood clots and cardiovascular events. Long-term complications may include herniation, bowel obstruction, a narrowing of the connection at the intestine, vitamin deficiencies, protein deficiencies, anemia, ulcers, gallstones, vomiting, dumping syndrome and depression.

In most patients, these risks are relatively low. To minimize these risks, the Abington Memorial Hospital Institute for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery program provides close follow-up and a diet and exercise program. Our patients are expected to do well and avoid most of the above-mentioned complications if our program guidelines are followed.

For example, with the Roux-en Y Gastric Bypass, the bypassed portion of the intestine results in a chronic or long-term inability to absorb enough of certain essential nutrients. These include decreased absorption of vitamin B12, calcium, thiamine, folic acid and iron in menstruating women. But these are easily replaced by taking a multivitamin, vitamin B12 and iron supplements daily.

This surgery must be taken seriously by patients contemplating these procedures. The risks to morbidly obese patients generally are greater for most operations and medical interventions than they are for patients who are not morbidly obese. Though very low, the incidence of the risks mentioned above are real and should be considered when making a decision as to your candidacy for a gastric bypass procedure. You must weigh these risks against the significant health risks morbidly obese patients continually face due to their excess weight.