Surgery Complications & Risks

Undergoing bariatric surgery is a big decision. Bariatric surgery is considered major surgery and has several potential complications that all patients need to know about. Complications may vary from minor problems to more serious conditions that require medical attention from the bariatric surgery team. Surgical complications that may occur soon after the operation may include some of the following:

  • Drainage at the surgical site
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Wound infection
  • Bleeding
  • Pneumonia
  • Gastric leak
  • Ulcer
  • Deep vein thrombosis

Post-surgery Complications

Some other complications may occur months after the operation. These may include:

  • Gallstones. Gallstones are common in people who lose weight rapidly. People undergoing bariatric surgery will be given medicine for three months after surgery that will help prevent the formation of gallstones.
  • Loose skin. Flabby skin can develop in some areas of the body after losing large amounts of weight. Common areas include the stomach, thighs, neck and the underside of arms. Many patients choose to undergo plastic surgery to fix this problem. Your medical team can help you make arrangements when the time is right for this type of surgery. Usually, it is best performed after you have lost all your weight. This is typically 2-4 years depending on the operation you had.
  • Dumping syndrome. Also known as rapid gastric emptying, dumping syndrome can occur when all or part of the stomach is removed through surgery. Common symptoms include abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Vitamin deficiencies. Bariatric surgery affects how nutrients are absorbed from your food or your nutrient intake. In some cases, this can lead to vitamin deficiencies after surgery. After surgery, you are encouraged to take daily vitamins to help prevent this complication. No matter which operation you have, it is important to take supplemental vitamins and to have your vitamin levels checked regularly.
  • Hair loss. Hair loss can be a side effect of rapid weight loss. Generally, it is caused by not getting enough protein and getting less zinc in your diet. Usually this side effect ends once weight loss begins to reach the desired goal, as long as you have a high-protein diet and take vitamin supplements.