Surgery for morbid obesity is considered major surgery. As with all surgeries, bariatric surgery carries the risk of general anesthesia and potential complications that are more common as weight increases.
If you are interested in bariatric surgery to get control of morbid obesity and other health problems, you must first consider the benefits to be gained from surgery versus the risks that you must go through in order to have the surgery. Usually the risks occur right away when the surgery is performed. The benefits take a while to pay you back in the form of improved health, reduced long-term risk of illness and lifestyle enhancement.
Risks and complications during surgery may include perforation of the stomach or intestine, internal bleeding, bowel obstruction. Wound infection (including opening of the wound), incisional hernia, and injury to the spleen with potential removal of the spleen.
Pulmonary embolism (blood clots to your lungs from your legs), pneumonia, atelectasis (collapse of lung tissue), fluid in the chest or other breathing problems may occur. Compression hose and walking after surgery help decrease the incidence of blood clots. With any major surgery, there is the risk of heart attack, congestive heart failure, irregular heartbeat, stroke, liver or kidney problems. Although rare (approx. 0.5-1 percent), surgical complications may cause death. Other complications include minor wound or skin infections, urinary tract infection, allergic reaction to medications, excessive vomiting, dehydration, development of loose skin, narrowing or stretching of the anastomosis (outlet of the stomach), peptic ulcer disease, and/or psychological reactions (i.e. depression while adjusting to new eating and lifestyle habits). Other late problems may include failure to lose weight or weight regain.
Most patients experience improved confidence and self-esteem. Some patients experience social or emotional upheavals (divorce, acute job dissatisfaction and other problems) as a result of all the changes that occur after surgery. Whether these problems are related to the surgery or weight reduction is unclear, but they have been noted.