Risks and Benefits of Gastric Bypass Surgery

Obesity is one of the major public health issues facing the world today. The percentage of overweight or obese people has doubled in the past 35 years and there’s no sign that the trend is slowing down.

When there were fewer obese people, it wasn’t an issue that got a lot of press. But today, health services worldwide are buckling under the strain of having to deal with the health problems of so many overweight individuals. If there is a ray of hope on the horizon, it comes in the form of gastric bypass surgery, which has helped countless obese people reclaim their lives. But while the benefits of gastric bypass surgery are many, it’s not a solution without its risks. In this article we’re going to look at both the risks and benefits of gastric bypass surgery.

An Overview of the Risks and Benefits of Gastric Bypass Surgery

As the number of overweight people has exploded in recent years, so has awareness of the health risks associated with obesity. Today, we know that obese individuals are at much greater risk than others of developing cardiovascular disease, liver disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, arthritis and a host of other health problems. The good news, however, is that a potential solution to obesity exists today in the form of weight loss surgery and you may be a candidate for this life altering procedure. But before you start making plans to undergo gastric bypass, you need to know the risks and benefits. So here they are, the most common gastric bypass benefits and risks.

Health Benefits of Gastric Bypass Surgery

– Quick and substantial weight loss – The average person who undergoes this procedure loses between 50 and 70% of their body weight, with most of that loss coming in the first year.

– Improvements in overall health – Those who undergo weight loss surgery typically see a reduction in symptoms associated with cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, asthma, sleep apnea, esophageal reflux, diabetes, high blood pressure and more.

– Short recovery time – This type of weight loss (or “bariatric”) surgery has a reasonably short recovery period, with most individuals able to return to a full work schedule in just a couple of weeks.

– Improved outlook – Most people who undergo successful gastric bypass surgery report a vastly improved outlook on life, a higher degree of motivation regarding their work and the building of more rewarding interpersonal relationships.

– Improved diet – In order for this type of procedure to be successful the patient must commit to a series of dietary changes that may include gastric bypass diet recipes. This improved diet alone will provide a host of health benefits.

– Increased lifespan – Let’s not forget the fact that the benefits of gastric bypass surgery include the prevention of premature death. People who undergo this procedure can expect to live a minimum of several years longer than if they had done nothing.

As you can see, gastric bypass offers a number of extremely attractive benefits for those who have been struggling to get their weight under control. However, every issue has two sides and people of course want to know what are the risks of gastric bypass surgery? So here are some of the most common gastric bypass risk factors.

– Vitamin deficiency – One of the very real long term risks of gastric bypass surgery is vitamin deficiency. Because the new smaller stomach pouch is unable to process nutrients as effectively as it did before, almost everyone who undergoes this procedure will need to take supplemental vitamins and minerals for perhaps the rest of their lives. Failing to do so can lead to very serious complications.

– Pulmonary embolism – Pulmonary embolism occurs when blood clots or other obstructions travel through the veins and lodge in the lungs. This is a risk of gastric bypass surgery but an admittedly small one; affecting less than 1% of patients.

– Internal scarring – Any type of surgery carries with it the risk of scarring and bariatric procedures are no different. In this case, scarring may occur in the small intestine making it difficult to process liquids. The condition can usually be fixed by way of a simple endoscopic procedure.

– Leakage – A tiny number of patients experience what’s called “leakage” wherein fluids leak into the abdominal cavity after surgery and cause infection. While it can be very uncomfortable, the situation can often be remedied with antibiotics.

– Death – This has to be mentioned as one of the risks of gastric bypass surgery simply because it is a remote possibility, just as it is with any major surgical procedure.

As you can see, the benefits of gastric bypass surgery are real as are the risks of gastric bypass surgery. Although most health care professionals will agree the benefits outweigh the risks in almost every case.

Who is Eligible?

While the benefits of gastric bypass far outweigh the risks in most cases, the procedure is still not for everyone. For a few, the risks of gastric bypass surgery will outweigh the potential benefits and they’ll need to find another method for achieving their weight loss goals. This begs the question “Who is eligible to enjoy the benefits of gastric bypass surgery?”

– Those who possess a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35.

– Those with a BMI greater than 30 who are experiencing major weight-related health problems.

– Post-pubescent teens with a BMI of more than 30 and serious weight-related health issues.

– Those who have had little or no success losing weight through more traditional means.

Exceptions can be made or course, but they are rare and completely up to the discretion of the team of health professionals evaluating a particular individual. It is their job to weigh the gastric bypass surgery risks and benefits.


The risks and benefits of gastric bypass surgery are well known. In a majority of cases those who meet the minimum requirements laid out above will go on to qualify for gastric bypass surgery. For an unfortunate few, however, the gastric bypass surgery complications risks will outweigh the benefits.