What are surgical complications of bariatric surgery for the treatment of obesity?

Updated: Jun 09, 2021
  • Author: Osama Hamdy, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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The mortality rate associated with standard bariatric surgical procedures in an experienced center should not exceed 1.5-2%. The surgical mortality rate is less than 0.5% at centers specializing in bariatric surgery. Mortality rates exceeding 2% suggest a risk-to-benefit ratio that probably is unacceptable.

Major procedure-specific postoperative complications include the following:

  • Wound dehiscence

  • Stomal strictures

  • Erosions or ulcers

  • Postprocedure diarrhea

  • Malabsorption

  • Nutritional and vitamin deficiency

  • Anastomotic leaks with a potential for mediastinitis or peritonitis

In addition, gastric-specific operations can be associated with persistent vomiting and metabolic alkalosis. These operations are also more commonly associated with weight-loss failure and inadvertent splenectomy than are other surgical methods. Malabsorptive procedures (gastric bypass) can lead to deficiency of thiamine, iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B-12.

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