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Risks Associated with Gastric Bypass Surgery

Jun 4, 2008
There is a lot of controversy surrounding gastric bypass surgery because it involves the stapling of the stomach in order to make it smaller. By making it smaller it is able to hold less food. It also bypasses that area of the stomach that is responsible for absorbing most of the calorie and nutrients that the individual takes in. This is a procedure that is meant primarily for the morbidly obese individual. These individuals must be obese for more than five years and be more than 100 pounds overweight. Very rarely is a gastric bypass procedure performed on someone who is less than 100 pounds overweight. These individuals must also show that they have made a serious effort to lose weight and that those efforts have not resulted in success.

There are various risks associated with gastric bypass surgery. Such risks include infection, stomach leaking (a staple fails), hernias, and respiratory issues. The most serious of these is the stomach leaking, which occurs in 1 out of every 20 gastric bypass surgeries. If the infection is not caught on time, it can be deadly.

It is rare that the complications associated with gastric bypass surgery result in death, but it does happen. Statistics show that there is around 1 death out of every 200 or 300 gastric bypass surgeries. This is dependent upon the individual's age, their health, how obese they are, if there is any heart disease, if diabetes is present, sleep apnea is a problem, and if there has ever been a pulmonary embolism at a previous time. The risk of death is also dependent upon how much experience the surgeon has.

Another risk is the risk of blood clots in the legs. Blood clots are common in overweight individuals and gastric bypass surgery can increase this risk. Dumping syndrome is also a risk of gastric bypass surgery, which is when the contents of the stomach move too fast through the small intestine. This can cause symptoms similar to that of a stomach virus. Other risks are malnutrition, gallstones, dehydration, kidney stones, stomach ulcer that bleeds, hypoglycemia, and food intolerance.

Alternatives

One of the most common alternatives to gastric bypass surgery is the lap band. Some call it the "magic band" because it does not require any stapling of the stomach. Instead, it involves a band being put around the stomach that makes it smaller. It is called a small gastric pouch. There is no major surgery and the band can be adjusted through a small opening. It can be adjusted until the patient feels it is comfortable. As a result, it prevents consuming large amounts of food and runs a lesser risk of malnutrition as long as the proper nutritional supplements are taken. It is not permanent, which means there is no rerouting of the intestines. It is a laparoscopic surgery that usually has patients ready to go home in about 45 minutes. Normal activities can also be resumed in around 24 to 48 hours.

Due to its success, lap band surgery is now being prescribed over gastric bypass because it has shown success, permits healthy weight loss, and does not require invasive surgery. It is also being offered to those who are less than 100 pounds overweight. A person does not have to be morbidly obese before they can receive the lap band, which is great news to those who are gaining weight despite some of their efforts to lose it. This also means that a person can get their weight under control before they further damage their health with weight that is going completely out of control.
About the Author
Understand if you maintain a healthy body weight by using a BMI calculator. Learn what your daily calorie intake should be by using a BMR calculator.
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