5 Common Problems after Gastric Bypass Surgery

5 Common Problems after Gastric Bypass Surgery

common problems after gastric bypass surgery

Obesity or over-weight is a common problem that most of us, including youngsters, face with alarming regularity. This is mainly due to our day-to-day lifestyle. For those of us facing complications but unable to cut down weight through conventional methods like dieting and physical exercise, gastric bypass surgery helps in dramatically losing the excess weight. Through surgical alterations to the digestive system, the intake of food and consequent absorption of nutrients in the body is substantially reduced. As a result, the body is unable to put on weight. This surgery is generally advised only if your BMI (Body Mass Index) is 40 or higher - which is considered as Extreme Obesity. There are also some common problems after gastric bypass surgery which we should know about. But before that, let’s take a look at the basics of gastric bypass surgery.

There are Two Ways by Which Gastric bypass surgery can be Performed as

  1. Open Surgery
  2. Laparoscope

In the open surgery process, as the name suggests, the surgeon makes a surgical cut and divides the stomach into an upper section and lower sections. Then, a bypass is performed to connect the small intestine to a hole in the upper section of the stomach.

In the laparoscope process or closed surgery, the surgery is done with the help of a camera probe which is inserted into the stomach. In this process, very small incisions are made on the stomach.

Common Problems after Gastric Bypass Surgery

Following gastric bypass surgery, the complications can vary from patient to patient and are directly proportional to the extent of healthy eating habits, diet and physical activity regimen that each person practices. The common complications after gastric bypass surgery, when your body is not compatible with anesthesia and heavy dose medicines, are allergic reactions, breathing problems, heart related problems, blood clots, and infection.

  • Pancreas problems after gastric bypass surgery, generally manifest in the form of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI). This happens due to the pancreas’ inability to produce digestive enzymes, thus leading to indigestion problems. EPI, in turn, leads to the formation of crystalized calcium oxalate or crystal formation in the urine. This can ultimately develop into acute renal failure. The gastric bypass surgery might also increase the risk of acute pancreatitis, where there is a sudden inflammation in the pancreas. However, this is condition is treatable.

  • Even as you lose weight, there is the possibility of developing gallbladder problems after the gastric bypass surgery as there are significant chances of developing gallstones. Gallstones are the hard deposits of digestive fluid called bile, which is released into your small intestine. Gallstones begin to form when you lose weight rapidly. Therefore, it is always advisable to lose weight gradually. Though these gallstones are usually considered harmless, they can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea. As formation of gallstones is quite common post-gastric bypass surgery, some surgeons make it a point, to remove the gallbladder along with the bypass surgery itself.

There are some long-term problems after gastric bypass surgery that you should be aware of too.

  • Chief among them is bowel obstruction syndrome, which leads to a severe stomach pain. It is also known as intestinal obstruction and this prevents the normal process of digestion. Pain in the abdomen, bloating, vomiting and the inability to pass stool are common symptoms. In some patients, rapid bowel evacuation occurs after meals, which leads to body weakness.

  • Low blood sugar, malnutrition, ulcers, hernias, inability to eat certain foods, external wounds on the stomach where the surgical cuts are made, and infections are some of the common complications arising after this surgery.

  • Interestingly, it has also been noticed that a few patients tend to gain weight after undergoing gastric bypass surgery.

  • In the laparoscopic surgery procedure, there are chances of developing internal bleeding, dumping syndrome and vitamin deficiency.

However, the risks from such complications can be greatly reduced by maintaining the BMI or decreasing it, through regular exercises and quitting smoking. Keeping a check on all these will help you lead a healthy and happy life post gastric bypass surgery.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad