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Gastric Bypass- Top 7 Risks and Complications

Common Complications Post Gastric Bypass

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(Source: JAMA)

According to a study1 by WebMD, about 10% of gastric bypass patients face postoperative complications that are usually not severe. There are certain lifestyles changes that one can make to minimize bariatric surgery risks.

Gastric Bypass Risks and Complications

1. Abdominal Pain

One of the most common side effects of gastric bypass. More than half of the patients complain of postoperative abdominal pain.

There can be many causes for it and it’s best to get yourself examined to find out the root cause. Rapid eating, intolerance to certain foods, irritable bowel syndrome, dumping syndrome, and ulcer disease are some of the reasons for abdominal pain.2

dumping syndrome

2. Nutritional Deficiencies

Nutritional Deficiencies

Since gastric bypass involves manipulating the gut, it leaves the body deprived of essential vitamins and minerals. According to a 2005 study conducted by Bloomberg and colleagues, and published in the Obesity Surgery journal,3 gastric bypasses may result in the deficiency of:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Folate
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D

This may further result in:

  • Osteoporosis (Calcium deficiency)
  • Wernicke encephalopathy (Vitamin B1 deficiency)
  • Anemia (Iron deficiency)
  • Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damages)
  • Fatigue


  • Take small meals.
  • Choose foods that are dense in nutrients.
  • Ensure 60 grams of protein in your diet every day.
  • Add Supplements along with your diet.
  • Calcium Citrate with Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12 and Iron should be taken regularly for protein deficiency.
  • Know the symptoms for nutritional deficiencies after gastric bypass.

3. Leakage

Leaking of gastric juices or acids through the staple line or sutures is another problem that may be encountered after a gastric bypass procedure. Gastric leaks may cause harm to nearby organs and tissues.

According to a January 2009 study approved by the ASMBS Executive Council, “gastrointestinal leak after gastric bypass is a known complication with a reported incidence between 1 and 5% in large case series of open and laparoscopic gastric bypass.”4


  • Using the right size of staples.
  • Over-sewing, either by hand or by stapling devices.
  • Use of biological hemostatic or coagulating agents to prevent or stop leakage.

4. Ulcers/Blood Clots

In rare cases, gastric bypass patients may also experience ulcers in the stomach or the intestinal lining, as well as blood clots in the lungs or legs.


  • Ulcers in the stomach or the small intestine can be cured by antibiotics.
  • Blood clots in the lungs or abdomen can be cured by anticoagulant medicines.

5. Gallstones


Gallstones are clumps or chunks of cholesterol and other similar matter that deposit in the gallbladder while or after quick and significant weight loss.

The rate of gallstone formation one year after gastric bypass is reportedly as high as 52.8%.

According to a report by the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, Cleveland Clinic, nearly 33% of individuals who have had gastric bypass develop gallstones.5


According to the Cleveland Clinic, bile salt supplements should be taken for 6 months after the surgery to prevent gallstones.

6. Surgical Site Infection

A study conducted among 115 bariatric patients found that the chance of wound infection on the incisions is very less.6 If the procedure has been done laparoscopically, the chance of an infection is even lesser. 9 out of 10 people do not experience any such complications.

7. Bowel Obstruction due to Internal Hernia

One of the most common complications after laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery is bowel obstruction due to internal hernia.7


  • Quit smoking
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Avoid straining during urination or bowel movements

A Sprinkle of Weight Loss Motivation to keep you going

Bariatric Surgery Motivation


  1. What Is Gastric Bypass Surgery? – 2012; Andrew Seibert
  2. Greenstein, Alexander J., and Robert W. O’Rourke. “Abdominal Pain Following Gastric Bypass: Suspects & Solutions.” American journal of surgery6 (2011): 819–827. PMC. Web. 23 July 2018.
  3. Bloomberg RD, Fleishman A, Nalle JE, Herron DM, Kini S. Nutritional deficiencies following bariatric surgery: what have we learned [review] Obes Surg. 2005;15:145-154.
  4. American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery’s Position Statement on “Prevention and Detection of Gastrointestinal Leak” Published May 2009
  5. Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, Cleveland Clinic
  6. Elbahrawy A, Bougie A et al. “Medium to Long-Term Outcomes of Bariatric Surgery in Older Adults with Super Obesity” Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases: Official Journal of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery 2018 Apr;14(4):470-476
  7. De Bakker, J. K. et al. “Gastric Bypass and Abdominal Pain: Think of Petersen Hernia.” JSLS: Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeonsn 2 (2012): 311–313. PMC. Web.
  • What qualifies you for gastric bypass surgery?
  • Can gastric bypass surgery be fatal?
  • What percentage of people regain weight after gastric bypass surgery?
  • What are the side effects of gastric bypass surgery?
  • What are the long-term results of bariatric surgery?
Updated on June 4, 2019

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