Frequent Complications from Gastric Bypass Surgery

Morbidly obese patients who want to lose weight sometimes opt for gastric bypass surgery. Through this surgery, the size of the patient’s stomach is decreased so that it cannot hold a large amount of food. The Mayo Clinic says that gastric bypass is the safest type of weight loss surgery. There are fewer complications with gastric bypass than any other weight loss surgery.

The process is simple. The surgeon reduces the size of the stomach with surgical staples. After the surgery, the stomach can only hold one ounce of food and drink.

Before you schedule a gastric bypass surgery, you need to consider the possible complications of the surgery. Gastric bypass surgery is serious, and severe complications can occur. Do not proceed with the surgery until you have discussed the risks with your surgeon. Medical intervention is always required to offset any sort of complications that arise from the procedure.

Possible Complications of Gastric Bypass Surgery

Dumping Syndrome

Dumping syndrome is the least dangerous complication of gastric bypass surgery. It is also among the most common complications. Nearly 20 percent of gastric bypass patients experience this problem. Many people cannot withstand some foods after their surgery. Usually, those foods are high in sugar or fat, which move too quickly through the small intestine. This causes a bloated feeling, sweating, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Patients can avoid dumping by following their dietician’s guidelines, which will also help avoid vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Some 30 percent of gastric bypass patients suffer nutritional deficiencies. The most common are deficiencies in iron, selenium, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B12, vitamin D and vitamin E. If left untreated, these deficiencies can cause anemia, non-specified bone abnormalities and osteoporosis. Supplemental doses of these vitamins can avert this problem. Patients might also become dehydrated.

Incision Hernia

Somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of gastric bypass patients develop an incision hernia. It is the most common late gastric bypass surgery complication. Additional surgery is required to repair this problem. Usually, patients with a large incision suffer from this complication.

Psychological Issues

Nearly 23 percent of patients who undergo a gastric bypass become depressed. This depression is not usually evident immediately after the procedure. These patients develop a variety of problems.

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Appetite change
  • Loss of interest in their favorite pastimes
  • Helplessness

Blood Clots

Blood clots may develop in a minuscule percentage of patients. One to two percent may have problems with blood clots forming in their legs, which can cause serious problems if they break free and lodge themselves in the lungs’ arteries. This can cause death. Wearing pressure stockings and abstaining from smoking can help alleviate the potential for blood clots in the legs. Walking also helps.


Two percent of gastric bypass patients experience leaking, which occurs along one of the staple lines used to resize the stomach. Time and antibiotics can help some cases of leaking, but many patients require an emergency procedure to fix the problem. Leaking can also cause pain in the left shoulder, elevated heart rate and heavy breathing.


Less than one percent of gastric bypass patients will have a narrowing of the opening that leads from the stomach to the small intestine. The opening can be widened during an outpatient procedure by inserting a tube into the mouth. Other patients may require surgery to fix the problem.

Additional complications from gastric bypass include the following:

  • Infection
  • Internal bleeding
  • Gastritis, which is inflammation of the stomach’s lining
  • Blood clots
  • Gall stones
  • Surgery to remove excess skin
  • Extra surgeries to rectify any complications

It’s critical for patients to have follow-up visits to their doctor frequently during the 12 months following their gastric bypass surgery for health evaluations and dietary advice. You should report any complications or symptoms to your doctor.