Risks of Bariatric Surgery

The complication rates for weight loss surgery are low. Approximately 1 in 100 may have a problem after gastric band surgery, and 1 in 1000 may not survive the operation. Following gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy operations the risk of complications are approximately 3 in 100, and 1 in 500 may not survive the operation. These are historical figures and may in fact be much lower. Patients at higher risk are those who are heavier, older, those with other significant health problems or if they have had previous operations in that area.

The risks of gastric band surgery are low, but the band can occasionally slip, become infected or erode into the stomach. The oesophagus (gullet) can also stretch above the band if you overeat. If these complications occur, generally the band will need to be removed.

Gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy operations involve cutting the stomach, so leaks can occur. Should this happen then further surgery is usually required to deal with the leak. Bleeding from the staple lines can also happen and may require a blood transfusion. Internal twisting of the bowel can happen at a later stage following gastric bypass.

One of the major risks of this type of surgery is of blood clots within the legs (DVT), which can occasionally dislodge and get stuck in the lung (PE). We cannot completely get rid of this risk, but we can try to reduce it by giving you compression stockings to wear during and after the operation, giving blood thinning injections during your stay and getting you up and about as soon as possible after surgery. The risk of clots doesn’t go away for a few weeks, so it is important to keep wearing the stockings at home and being as active as possible.

Before being discharged from hospital you will be given information as to what to look out for when you get home, as well as what to do and who to contact  if you are worried.