Gastric bypass complications

August 12, 2008 by admin in Gastric with 1 Comment

While gastric bypass surgery may seem, to some, like a magic fix-it solution, something to permanently put an end to problems with weight, it should be noted that it should only be considered as a last resort.

Certainly, gastric bypass surgery has saved the lives of many people suffering from severe weight problems, but the surgery also requires major life changes on the part of the patient, as well as dedication to staying healthy, and it comes with its share of potential complications.

Laparoscopic surgery methods have dramatically lowered the rate of mortality in gastric bypass surgery. In some studies, the mortality rate for traditional, open incision gastric bypass surgery has been as high as 0.11%, but a study on laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery placed the mortality rate at a whopping zero point zero zero percent. Not to say laparoscopic surgery is one hundred percent safe, and the study did show a seven percent complications rate, but laparoscopic surgery is infinitely safer than open incision, and, if you have a choice, we cannot stress enough the advantages that laparoscopic surgery methods have over open incision methods.

Some of the potential complications involved with abdominal surgery and gastric bypass surgery may include:


Infections generally affect either the incisions themselves, or the inside of the abdomen. This occurs thanks to the release of bacteria during operation on the bowels. The infections that may occur after abdominal surgery may include nosocomial infection, such as pneumonia or bladder and kidney infections. Antibiotics or respiratory therapy shortly after the completion of the operation can greatly reduce the risk of infection.


Many people don’t know exactly what a hernia is. A hernia is an abnormal opening within the abdomen or abdominal wall muscles. These can occur due to excessive stress on the body (such as when bodybuilders overexert themselves), or when a surgical incision heals poorly, resulting in the intestines bulging through the opening. Laparoscopic surgery greatly reduces the risk of hernia.

Bowel obstruction

Because of the scarring inherent in abdominal surgery, the bowels may develop heavy scar tissue. This can obstruct the bowels even years after surgery. If this occurs, it can be corrected with surgery.


Because blood vessels need to be cut so as to divide the stomach and move the bowels, there is risk of hemorrhage in any major abdominal surgery. This can result in the necessity of blood transfusions and further operation. The risk for hemorrhage may actually be increased by the use of blood thinners.

Anastomic leakage

What is an anastomosis? An anastomosis is what we call the connection made between the stomach and bowel during surgery, though it can also refer to a connection between two parts of the bowel. Luckily, a leakage of the anastomosis occurs in only about two percent of gastric bypass operations, and can usually be treated by antibiotics. If antibiotics cannot be deemed definitely sufficient, however, it’s safer to re-operate.

Dumping syndrome

Dumping syndrome has a funny sounding name, but it’s no laughing matter. Dumping syndrome can occur when the gastric bypass patient eats a sugary food and the sugar passes too quickly into the bowels. This can result in diarrhea, and even cold sweat and extreme anxiety, and usually, incredible discomfort for thirty to forty five minutes. This complication is temporary, though, and if anything, can serve as incentive to make better gastric bypass diet choices.

Anastomotic stricture

This occurs when the anastomosis shrinks. Scar tissue tends to shrink over time, and this can make the opening into the bowels much smaller. The passage of food through an anastomosis usually keeps the opening stretched out, but inflammation and the healing process may wind up creating an opening so small that even liquids have a problem passing through. This can be mended with a gastroendoscopy, stretching the opening by inflation of a balloon within the anastomosis.

One Comment

  1. Carol LockyerOctober 17, 2012 at 1:14 pmReply

    I had gastric bypass surgery two years ago. I have a lot of problems when I eat and, sometimes even just drinking water. I have excessive belching, nausea, and, at times, vomiting. This will last for days, with occasional relief for a day or two, then the cycle begins again. I avoid eating in front of others because the problem gets so bad!

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