Possible risks during surgery

Bariatric surgery can yield spectacular results. However, there are also potential risks and complications, as is the case with all surgical procedures. Malabsorptive and combined procedures lead to faster and greater weight loss in comparison to the purely restrictive procedures, but also carry a greater risk. The risk of complications and side effects increases as the digestive process is changed more drastically.

Potential obesity surgery complications

The following serious complications may occur during or after the procedure:

  • Internal bleeding or organ injury. When a gastric bypass, where gastric and intestinal loops are cut and connected, is performed, there is a (small) risk of leakage. As a result, the contents of the gastrointestinal tract may leak out, causing a fluid accumulation or abscess in the abdominal cavity or causing a peritoneal inflammation. This serious complication can be treated well if it is recognized in time. The procedure may need to be repeated after one of these complications.
  • Possible complications in the lungs include pulmonary embolism (as a result of a blood clot in the veins, usually in the lower limbs), the presence of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), fluid in the chest (pleural effusion), lung atelectasis (collapsing of a part of the lung due to insufficient deep breathing), or pneumonia.
  • Arrhythmia, heart attack
  • Malfunctioning of the liver and lungs
  • Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia

Less serious complications

In addition to the risk of serious complications and potential death, patients must also take a number of other, less serious (and well treatable) complications into account. Examples includde scarring, acid regurgitation, urinary tract infections, nausea, low blood pressure, deficiency of iron and / or vitamins, cramps, diarrhea and temporary hair loss. Finally, there may also be complications resulting from the material being inserted, such as tearing of adhesive staples or penetration of the band or ring in the stomach. With significant weight loss, the problem of excess skin at the level of the abdomen, thighs, upper arms and / or breasts often occurs. This problem can later be remedied by a plastic surgeon.

This list is non-exhaustive but does give you a good idea of the most common complications. Your surgeon will inform you in greater detail.

Dr. Yannick Nijs contact | Obesity Centre Brussels

Dr. Yannick Nijs
Obesity surgeon

St-Michel Europe Hospitals
150 Linthoutstraat, 1040 Brussels

+32 470 588 537
+32 2 614 37 20

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