Complications Following Gastric Bypass

(Posted by Dr Hani)

As with any other surgery, gastric bypass surgery may cause serious complications. Here are some of the most common complications.

Respiratory Problems

Obese patients are reported to have more respiratory complications after surgery and the same is true for gastric bypass surgery. Respiratory problems are the commonest complications seen after gastric bypass surgery. If a patient has a history of previous respiratory problems (e.g., pneumonia), the chances of having respiratory complications after gastric bypass be even higher. Use of anesthetic drugs poses a risk for an obese patient and this is why special anesthesia protocols are often used in obese patients.


Postsurgical infections are common in patients after gastric bypass surgery. If the patient is already having concurrent health problems like diabetes mellitus, the prevention and control of post-surgical infections becomes more difficult. Your surgeon will prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics for few days to prevent such infections. If infection becomes localized at the surgery site, the surgeon may need to reopen the site and treat the wound.

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Intestinal Leakage

During gastric bypass both stomach and intestines need to be manipulated and sutured. Sometimes leaking starts in the stomach and/or intestines which may prove to be a life-threatening complication. If leaking starts, your surgeon will need to perform a second surgery to stop the leaking and may insert drains in order to remove the leaking fluid.

Bowel Obstruction

As with any other abdominal surgery, bowel obstruction may occur in patients after gastric bypass surgery.

Blood clots

Blood clots are the small clumps that form when the blood hardens from a liquid to a solid. The blood clots may cause life-threatening complications if they reach heart or brain. Patients undergoing surgery may be given blood thinners to prevent the formation of blood clots during or after surgery.

Narrowing of anastomosis

An anastomosis is a surgical connection between two structures and after gastric bypass the anastomosis opening may turn narrow and hinder the passage of stomach contents into the intestines. Your surgeon will decide whether you need second surgery or not to correct the defect.


Constipation is common complication after most abdominal surgeries and a number of patients complain about difficulty in passing stool. Plenty of fluids may help patients to deal with constipation after surgery. However, if symptoms don’t resolve with increasing fluids, talk to your healthcare professional for an advice.


Ulcers may form at the junction of stomach and intestines and the common cause of these ulcers are anti-inflammatory drugs, smoking, and overeating. There is a number of effective drugs available to treat these ulcers. However, you’ll need to change your eating habits, quit smoking and use anti-inflammatory drugs after consulting your healthcare professional.

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