Gastric Bypass


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ComplicationsGastric bypass surgery is a great option for managing weight loss in the long term. Research shows that this procedure has one of the highest success rates and an impressively low complication rate of 5%.

You should, therefore, have a lot of confidence as you commit to the procedure.

However, it’s still important to be fully aware of the possible complications, despite the minimal risks. Let’s look at some of the complications associated with gastric bypass surgery.

Overview of Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric bypass surgery is a common type of weight loss surgery. In this procedure, the stomach is turned into a small gastric pouch. A loop of the small intestine is cut, then brought up and connected to the gastric pouch through a connection known as anastomosis. The other end of the small intestine loop is connected to the rest of the small intestine through another anastomosis. With this connection, food is redirected further down the digestive system, bypassing the stomach.

Consequently, you eat less and feel fuller faster, controlling weight gain. Gastric bypass surgery is recommended mostly for individuals satisfying the following conditions:
  • Have a BMI of 40 or higher (severe or morbid obesity)
  • Have a BMI between 35 – 39.9 and suffer from serious weight-related complications

  • You must have also tried losing weight through dietary changes and physical exercise with little to no success.

    Possible Complications with Gastric Bypass Surgery

    Complications with gastric bypass surgery can be early or late. Early complications include:
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Leaks
  • Problems with vital organs such as the heart, kidneys, or lungs.

    Research shows
    that these complications have fallen steeply, with a mortality rate of 0.1% or one in a thousand. It is one of the lowest figures for most surgical procedures.

  • Long-term complications from gastric bypass surgery include:
  • Blockage
  • Twisting
  • Malnutrition

  • Blockage and twisting are often solved by surgical revision of the procedure. Nutritional deficiency is caused by a lack of vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D. It can lead to neuropathy, fatigue, and loss of bone density over time. Let’s look deeper into some of these complications.

    Blood Clots

    After surgery, you’ll be given treatment to reduce the risk of blood clottings, such as leg stockings and blood-thinning medicine. However, you can still get blood clots. Blood clots typically occur in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) or lower leg (deep vein thrombosis).

    Symptoms of a blood clot include:
  • Swelling, redness, or warmth in the lower leg
  • Pain and tenderness in the lower leg
  • Cough or shortness of breath
  • A sharp stabbing chest pain that may get worse when breathing in
  • Dizziness or fainting

  • Contact medical emergency services or your doctor immediately if you get the symptoms of a blood clot.

    Wound Infection

    Wounds from gastric bypass surgery can get infected during healing. Signs of an infected wound include:
  • Red, hot, and swollen skin
  • Pain around or in the wound
  • Pus coming out from the wound
  • Ensure you contact your doctor immediately if you suspect you have a wound infection. It’s often treated using antibiotics.

    Anastomotic Leaking

    Research shows that anastomotic leaking happens in about 5.6% of gastric bypass surgeries. It is one of the most serious complications resulting from the procedure. Anastomotic leaking often happens within three days after surgery, but it may take up to several weeks to show up. Its symptoms include:
  • Fever
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Drainage from the surgical wound
  • Pain in the left shoulder area
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Decreased urination
  • Low blood pressure

  • The risk of anastomotic leaking increases with obesity. Males and individuals with a history of abdominal surgery are also at a higher risk. Anastomotic leaking is typically treated in the following ways:
  • Administering antibiotics through an intravenous line (IV)
  • Conducting an upper endoscopy to place a temporary stent across the area with the leak, from the inside of the small intestine or gastric pouch
  • Draining any infection resulting from the leak, repairing the leak, or operating again to make a new anastomosis
  • Stopping all oral feedings and administering food through a tube until the leak heals
  • Blocked Gut

    The stomach or small intestine may narrow or block after gastric bypass surgery. It happens due to the surgery’s side effects, such as reduced blood flow and scarring. A blocked gut can cause complications such as a kinked or twisted gut and food getting stuck. This causes the following symptoms:
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Tummy pain
  • Less need to poo
  • You should contact emergency services or a doctor as soon as possible once you get these symptoms.

    Consult a Bariatric Surgeon First

    Committing to gastric bypass surgery is one of the best decisions you can make regarding your weight management. However, ensure you’ve consulted a professional bariatric surgeon first to fully understand the perks and complications of the surgery before committing.

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