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Bariatric Surgery Risks

Bariatric Surgery Risks

When you decide to embark on your bariatric health journey, you must consider the multitude of health risks at stake.  There are various bariatric surgery risks that you must discuss in detail with your bariatric surgeon, dietician, and primary physician.

After a thorough analysis, your health care team will decide whether or not you are in a safe medical place for this surgery.  You must be aware that even though your health care team allows you to have bariatric surgery, there are severe health risk possibilities. There are also some short and long term side effects you should also be aware of as well.

What are the Risks of Bariatric Surgery?

Because bariatric surgery changes your digestive system, there are specific limitations to how much you can eat at one time.  Because of your changed digestion system, your body can no longer process particular foods or absorb nutrients the way it used to.

Weight loss surgery is an effective health procedure that can cause some complications.

Some of the immediate risks you may experience after bariatric surgery include:

  • Infection
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Leaks in your gastrointestinal system
  • Lung or breathing issues
  • Negative reaction to anesthesia
Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthy food options.

You have the power to help prevent these adverse health side effects by following the strict instructions provided by your physician.  You will have various lab tests and exams before your surgery to ensure you are in good health.

To help prepare your mind and body for surgery, you will be put on an all-liquid diet that can last as long as two weeks.  You may also be placed on a specific food and exercise program to prepare your body for surgery.

You also have to stop all smoking to protect your lungs.  Along with preparing your body before surgery, you should even know your recovery guidelines after surgery.

Weight Loss Surgery Risks and Benefits

After you have weight loss surgery, you can develop some health risks if you do not follow the detailed guidelines for before and after surgery health suggestions.

You may also experience a multitude of health benefits that improve your health.

The overall goal of weight loss surgery is to lessen and cure obesity-related diseases that include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Weight loss surgery can reduce and treat all of the listed health conditions if you can follow your bariatric team’s health instructions after surgery.

Daily exercise is essential in maintaining long term weight loss. 

Bariatric Surgery Types and Risks Explained

If you are not taking proper care of your health, you can decrease your success after weight loss surgery by amplifying bariatric surgery risks with unhealthy decisions.  You may also experience a variety of unforeseen health consequences.

The most common types of weight-loss surgeries are sleeve gastrectomy and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.  The laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding is no longer performed at most hospitals.

The gastric bypass and the gastric sleeve have various short-term and long-term health side effects that can be  harmful if you do not treat them quickly.  The long term health risks associated with gastric bypass include:

  • Dumping Syndrome
  • Addiction Transfer
  • Weight gain or failure to lose weight
  • Nutrient deficiencies and malnutrition

Along with the physical health risks, you should also monitor your mental health closely because the surgery can also be exhaustive on your mental state.

Your mental health can be jeopardized because of the many unwanted questions that place a new amount of attention you are not comfortable with.  Bariatric surgery provides a new host of considerations related to social dynamics and situations that can be quite stressful.

Preparing your meals at home is a great skill to maintain your weight loss. 

Bariatric Surgery Risks Detailed

One of the leading health risks you need to be mindful of is the likelihood of addiction transfer.

This occurs for roughly 40% of all bariatric patients who transfer their previous addiction to food towards alcohol.

The addition may not always be alcohol; it may be smoking, unhealthy relationships, or spending, but if your mental health is not trustworthy before surgery, these problems will continue after surgery.

Researchers have found that bariatric patients have increased exposure to abuse, which places you at an increased risk of developing addictions to alcohol, drugs, or behavior that trigger similar reward reactions in your brain.

Binge eating is considered a form of addition as well. Alcohol and drugs are substituted for food after bariatric surgery.  If you suffer from this condition, you can speak with a behavioral health specialist to help monitor, treat, and teach coping mechanisms.

There are also substance abuse specialists; you can contact if you need this guidance.

Risks Associated with Bariatric Surgery

Addiction transfer is a concern for many bariatric patients after surgery.  Alcohol consumption is not recommended until one year after surgery because of the increased likelihood of addiction transfer.

Alcohol is more easily digested and consumed after bariatric surgery, which leads to mental and physical impulsive actions.  When your stomach has significantly reduced, the absorption of the alcohol into your system is radically altered.

Because of the faster absorption rate, your response to the effects of alcohol is also increased. These can increase negative behaviors for bariatric patients.

Improve your mental health by attending group or individual therapy sessions. 

Mitigating Bariatric Surgery Risks

You can avoid putting yourself at risk for harmful side effects with a well-balanced diet and lifestyle.  Some health habits to cultivate include:

  • Low-calorie diet
  • Regular exercise and physical activity
  • The supportive network of family, friends, and coworkers

To help lessen your bariatric health risks, it is essential to attend your regularly scheduled check-ups to monitor your health status and progress. Bariatric surgery does not change your lifestyle, but it is the best tool to promote a healthy life through the necessary changes you must undergo for success.

Your accountability and health management is entirely your control.  Bariatric surgery is still the most effective option in treating obesity, but it is not a cure.

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Kelsey Renae Schulze


Kelsey is a post-op bariatric patient who had sleeve surgery in 2018. She is a writer, focusing on a variety of topics given her background in legal studies and criminal justice.