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risks and complications of Bariatric Surgery?

What are the risks and complications of Bariatric Surgery?

What are the risks and complications of Bariatric Surgery?

We have covered the good part already. You can read here Can Bariatric Surgery reverse/cure Diabetes?

Now let’s discuss the bitter part. Bariatric surgery like any other surgery also has some risks and complications.

What are the risks and complications of Bariatric Surgery?

They are 2 fold.

  • First is mortality (possibility of patient’s death during surgery).
  • Second is Postoperative complications, which can further be divided into early (within the first month of surgery) or late complications.

Let’s first discuss mortality…

It depends on various factors like how skilled is your surgeon, how advanced is the centre where you are going to get operated, how skilled is the helping team of surgeon, whether you have other medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, raised cholesterol levels etc.

More than 400 studies were done involving 85,048 patients. It was found that the mortality rate was very low i.e 0.28% (less than 30 days post-operative period), while it was 0.35% in the postoperative period of 30days to 2 years. It was very low as compared to other surgical procedures like pediatric heart operation (5.4%), heart bypass surgery (3.5%) and head skull surgery (10.7%).

What are other complications which don’t lead to a patient’s death?

First of all, it depends on the type of bariatric surgery. There are Restrictive bariatric surgeries and Malabsorptive surgeries.

Restrictive surgeries reduce the size of your stomach. Malabsorptive surgeries make your gut absorb fewer nutrients.

Restrictive surgeries don’t cause any complication related to malabsorption. You won’t suffer from any vitamin/mineral deficiency-related diseases. Such complications are more common in malabsorptive surgeries. You might need lifelong vitamins/minerals supplementation.

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A complication that can occur with band surgeries is the erosion of the band and that can cause pain in your tummy. Your band around the stomach may get slipped away and for that, you might need another operation (happens in 1.7% of cases).

Some other complications which were reported in bariatric laparoscopic surgeries were:

  • wound healing problems(2.98%),
  • hernias 0.47% (from the site of the incision),
  • gut obstruction(2.1%),
  • gut haemorrhage(0.6%),
  • pulmonary embolism (<1%)
  • anastomotic stenosis 0.7%(narrowing of the site where reattachment is done)
  • and leaks(1.2%)
  • some other issues like heartburn, diarrhoea, flatulence (bad ones)

Keep in mind that with any type of rapid weight loss, there is always the risk of developing gallbladder stones.


If we see the risk-benefit ratio then bariatric surgery is a very good option to avoid complications of obesity and diabetes but you should also keep in mind the possible complications. You need to ask yourself whether you can live comfortably with these complications if they occur. Is there a good facility in your area for bariatric surgery with the availability of a skilled surgeon and the latest advancement of bariatric surgery?

Closing Comment: Dietary changes and physical activity should always be your first priority. Keep bariatric surgery as your last option.


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