Risks and Possible Complications for Morbid Obesity Surgery

The risks for these surgeries are the same as for any other major surgery except that, due to the patients increased weight, each risk is higher than the average-weight individual. How much higher depends on the medical problems and degree of morbid obesity. Some possible complications are:  

  1. Incisional hernia: if possible, waiting 1 to 2 years to repair this when the plastic surgeon is able to remove extra skin is suggested.
  2. Wound healing problems: It is common to develop some type of wound healing problems such as infections or fluid collections under the skin.
  3. Staple line leak: This is uncommon and generally recognized while you are still in the hospital. This can be an emergency and require a second surgery to repair.
  4. Blood clots: Precautions are taken during and after surgery to avoid this. A blood clot to the lungs or other major organs can cause serious complications and even death. This is uncommon, but it is one of the reasons patients are out of bed and walking within 24 hours of having surgery.
  5. Bowel obstruction: Any time surgery is performed on the bowel, there is a risk of obstruction from a build up of scar tissue. This is not common but can be serious and require surgery to relieve.
  6. Pneumonia: This is another reason for getting up and walking as soon as possible after surgery. Instructions are also given for coughing and deep breathing exercises.
  7. Gastric outlet obstruction: This is uncommon. Swelling or the build up of scar tissue at the new outlet in the stomach can become too narrow to let food or fluids through. Dilation can be attempted to relieve this or sometimes a second surgery is required.
  8. Vitamin/nutrition deficiencies: You must be monitored by a doctor who is familiar with your surgery for the rest of your life. Your nutritional status and vitamin levels must be checked at regular intervals. You will be required to take vitamins daily for the rest of your life. Long term vitamin deficiencies can result in problems such as bone disease, anemia and bleeding problems to name a few.
  9. Death: This is uncommon. Any complication in a morbidly obese individual has the potential of becoming serious and possibly causing death.  

It would be impossible to list all the possible risks and complications. Getting into the best physical shape possible prior to surgery will help to decrease the risk and improve the recovery period. Your surgeon will discuss your risks with you.