Bariatric Surgery Risks & Side Effects

All surgeries carry some degree of risk. When advanced techniques are used, such as those at our Institute, bariatric surgery is safe and complications are rare. This is why Dr. Lutfi takes your medical history into account when recommending a procedure for you and offers a comprehensive program that does not just include surgery but focuses on your overall wellness.

Potential Complications

The complications listed below are the most common, but they are all rare:

Bleeding: Any surgery can bleed. The risk of bleeding is low, ranging about 1% in our program and is usually controlled in reoperation without adverse outcomes.

Leaking: This is the most feared complication. Leakage may lead to severe infection and need for reoperation. Fortunately, this is very uncommon in our Institute with a history of only one leak in our series of >1,000 patients.

Narrowing of the connection between the bowel and the stomach pouch: Again, this is rare. If it occurs, endoscopic dilation and rarely surgery may be necessary.

Blood clots, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVTs): These can be avoided through the use of compression socks and blood thinning medication. If they occur, however, a clot in a leg can travel to the lungs and require additional medication.

Hernias: These are rare, since surgery is done through very tiny incisions. However, these can occur deep in the abdomen after gastric bypass and may require a surgical procedure to correct.

Gallstones. These are common after any weight loss, regardless of surgery or not. Sometimes the gallbladder will need to be removed, which is an outpatient surgery.

Infections. These are always a small risk of surgery, but they nearly always respond well to antibiotics.

Ulcers. These can occur in the stomach, but they usually respond well to medication.

Side Effects

The side effects below can usually be avoided if you carefully follow your obesity & bariatric program guidelines:

Dumping syndrome will occur if you eat foods high in sugar or fat after a gastric bypass or duodenal switch surgery. Sugar is not part of your post-operative diet because the stomach pouch is attached to a portion of the intestine that has never processed sugar before. Therefore, eating sugar or high-calorie foods will cause nausea, diarrhea, and possibly vomiting.

Vitamin and mineral deficiency. This is sometimes due to a difficulty in absorbing vitamins after surgery. This condition is easily remedied through the use of proper supplements, which are important to take after surgery.

Sensitivity to aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil) and Motrin. You will need to avoid these after surgery.

Dehydration. We will ask you to drink water often but in smaller amounts than you may be accustomed to.

Acid Reflux. This side effect sometimes happens in patients who have had Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy and can be managed with medication.

Nausea, gas, and abdominal pain can occur with any gastrointestinal surgery

Dr. Lutfi will review these risks and side effects with you and will answer any questions you have about your specific degree of risk.