Possible Complications during Gastric Bypass Surgery
If you are considering gastric bypass surgery, you should consider the various complications that can occur during and after the procedure. As with any surgery, there are certain risks involvedâ€”risk from the anesthesia, the procedure and the recovery process. Knowing about the complications of gastric bypass surgery
can help you make an informed decision about the surgery and anticipate some of the various and possible outcomes.
In general, complications of gastric bypass surgery are reduced when the surgeon performs the surgery laparoscopically rather than by the traditional route. The traditional method of making a large incision in the abdomen is associated with a longer recovery and more complications with the healing process. However, in order for the laparoscopic approach to be safer, your surgeon must be skilled with this approach because it is more technically demanding. Since the area is visualized by a camera rather than directly, all cuts, sutures and movements are also done by camera. In skilled hands, though, laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery is associated with fewer complications.
Assuming you are working with a skilled surgeon, there are still some complications of gastric bypass surgery that can occur infrequently. Since this procedure is done on those who are suffering from obesity, these patients usually have other obesity-related diseases as well, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. People with poorly controlled diabetes are prone to wound infections because high levels of circulating sugar in the blood interfere with wound healing. Chronic diseases also increase the risks associated with anesthesia. Larger people are more difficult to intubate (place a breathing tube deep in the throat). Also, because many anesthetics need to be dosed in terms of body mass, obese patients require higher concentrations of anesthesia. This increases the risk for anesthesia side effects.
With any abdominal surgery there is a risk of infection. The GI tract is chock full of microorganisms and whenever the stomach and/or intestines are manipulated or cut, there is a risk that some bacteria can spill into the belly itself. If this occurs it can cause serious infections. Gastric bypass surgery involves cutting several blood vessels, including arteries. While it is not common, anytime that an artery is cut there is a risk of hemorrhage. Also, surgery of the bowel can lead to scar tissue within the wall of the bowel. This scar tissue may interfere with the passage of material through the GI tract. This will not immediately be apparent during surgery by may occur during the days to weeks after surgery. Other complications of gastric bypass surgery that may not be immediately apparent after surgery are problems with the anastomosis
. â€śAnastomosisâ€ť is the term that physicians use to describe the place where two tubular structures have been connected. In gastric bypass surgery, anastomosis refers to the place where the two regions of the GI tract are re-connected after surgery. The anastomosis may leak, become narrow and develop an ulcer. These things do not occur that often, but when they do occur they usually mean that the patient will have to undergo another surgery to correct the complication.
While they do not occur that often, complications of gastric bypass surgery do occur and learning about them can help you and your doctor to identify and correct any problems as quickly as possible.
Last Updated: 03/31/2009