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.

Internationally Renowned Bariatric Surgeon

Rami Lutfi, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.S.M.B.S.

  • President, American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Foundation
  • Medical Director and Section Chief of Metabolic Surgery and Weight Loss and Bariatric Fellowship Program Director at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center
  • Chief of Surgery at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center
  • Clinical Associate Professor at University of Illinois Chicago
  • Fellowship in Minimally Invasive & Bariatric Surgery: Vanderbilt University Hospital
  • Former President of the Illinois Association of Bariatric Surgery
  • He is one of only a few surgeons who educates new surgeons how to perform successful, minimally invasive bariatric surgery.
  • One of the first five physicians trained in North America on the ORBERA® Intragastric Balloon
  • Placed the 1st gastric sleeve in the state of Illinois
  • First to place a gastric balloon in the Midwest.
  • Performed over 2500 weight loss procedures.

Dr. Rami Lutfi has been featured on

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What Our Patients are Saying

Natalie, real patient

Natalie - Lost 90 lbs

“Dr. Rami Lutfi and his staff have been absolutely wonderful throughout the entire Bariatric process. They truly care about your well-being and success to become the best version of yourself. I have lost 90 lbs in the course of 6 months and I’m still working hard to achieve my goals. Sticking to diet and exercise truly pays off. Bariatric surgery is a real lifestyle change and is a great tool to better your future health.”

Colin, real patient

Collin - Lost 130 lbs

“I cannot thank Dr. Lutfi and his incredible staff enough for helping me get my life back on track  From my initial consultation, to several post op appointments they have always had my best interests in mind throughout this process. It is an important decision and a lifestyle change that takes a big commitment, but with support from the medical team at Dr. Lutfi’s office, friends,and family; I believe it can be the best decision someone can make if they struggle with weight loss issues like I had since a teenager.”

Teresa - Lost 150 lbs

“Dr. Lutfi and his team are amazing.  I have been supported both physically and emotionally every step of my journey.  I cannot recommend Dr. Lutfi and Presence Hospital enough.  Best decision I have ever made!”

Pauline - Lost 100 lbs

“I have struggled with obesity my entire life, and when I had my son, my weight afterwards soared. I was in so much pain from the birth and carrying the excess weight that I could not work out and dieting was not helping. Due to the fact I had over 100 lbs to lose, I looked into having barbaric surgery and found Dr. Lutfi. His care and the amazing staff made my decision easy. I am now almost 100 lbs down and a fit, active mom with energy to spare! Thank you Dr. Lutfi!”

Michael - Lost 116 lbs

“The bariatric journey is definitely not an event that begins and ends with a surgical procedure — it’s a process that takes a lot of effort.  But on that journey, it is helpful to have the support of a comprehensive bariatric team. Certainly, it starts with expert surgical hands, like Dr. Lutfi’s.  I chose his practice due to his experience and enthusiasm. The medical and nutritional information provided by Markie and Erin made creating and sticking to a plan easy and straightforward….

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