Bariatric Surgery Risks & Side Effects

Bariatric surgery can truly be life changing. While weight loss surgery is highly successful and relatively free of complications for the overwhelming majority of patients, undergoing any significant operation comes with potential risks and side effects. The key is to understand the risks and side effects so that you can take actions to limit their impact or avoid their occurrence altogether. In some instances, the side effects of weight loss surgery can actually be beneficial. Below are some potential side effects and risks of weight loss surgery, and strategies to avoid experiencing them.

Side Effects & Risks

  1. Dehydration – after surgery, your stomach’s ability to hold and absorb nutrients and fluids will be reduced. Without proper planning, this can lead to dehydration, an abnormal depletion of body fluids. Drinking an adequate amount of fluids each day can allow the body to remain properly hydrated and avoid this side effect. Dehydration can lead to nausea and vomiting, which can lead to even worse dehydration and other problems. Fortunately, becoming dehydrated after surgery is perfectly avoidable with education prior to surgery and proper planning after surgery.
  1. Difficulty swallowing – also referred to as dysphagia, can be caused by eating too quickly, too much, not chewing thoroughly, or any combination of these habits. Fortunately, this can almost always be avoided by recognizing the potential for such difficulties, and making sure to eat small amounts, to eat slowly, and to chew thoroughly. It is best to practice these habits and to ingrain them into your lifestyle prior to surgery. Remember, your body is adjusting, so give it time to become used to the changes in your digestive system.
  1. Indigestion – is the inability to digest or difficulty digesting food. Symptoms can include a burning sensation or discomfort in the upper abdomen. Indigestion, if experienced, can be avoided by not eating foods that may cause you these symptoms.
  1. Dumping syndrome –causes weakness, dizziness, flushing/warmth, nausea, and/or palpitations immediately or shortly after eating, and is produced by abnormally rapid emptying of the stomach, particularly in individuals who have had part of the stomach removed. Dumping syndrome can be completely avoided by eating a proper post-bariatric diet. You will be thoroughly educated on proper dietary habits to practice before surgery.
  1. Gallstones – are small stones formed in the gall bladder. They sometimes form following rapid weight loss, which leads to their development in some bariatric surgery patients. For patients who form gallstones after surgery, the condition is completely treatable by removing the gallbladder as an outpatient operation by laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
  1. Hair Loss – occurs in some patients and can be caused by nutritional deficiencies or as your body’s response to major surgery or weight loss. Fortunately, for those patients who develop hair loss, it is always temporary. Most patients stop losing and start growing their hair back within 3 to 6 months following surgery. Supplementing your diet with protein, vitamin B, magnesium, calcium and zinc, among other bariatric vitamins, may help prevent or minimize hair loss and improve hair growth.


Limiting the Impact of Side Effects

Consult your BASS bariatric surgeon if you experience any of these side effects. One of our team members at BASS Medical Group is always available to help. Adhering to your post-bariatric diet and nutritional plan can help prevent many of these side effects.