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Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery Blogs | Healthy Eating Tips

Bariatric surgery complications

If you’re considering having bariatric surgery, we know you have many questions. One of the most common questions we receive from patients during consultations is “What are the potential complications from bariatric surgery?”

As with any surgical procedure, there are both short-term and long-term risks involved. Below, we’ve listed some of the potential complications of bariatric surgery in general, as well a few of the specific complications associated with three common bariatric procedures (Gastric BypassLaparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band or LAP-BAND; and Sleeve Gastrectomy​).

General Bariatric Surgery Complications

Potential risks and side effects associated with bariatric surgery can be broken down into two main categories: short-term and long-term.

Short-term complications may include:

  • Adverse reactions to anesthesia.
  • Blood clots.
  • Excessive bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Leaks in your gastrointestinal system.
  • Lung or breathing problems.

Long-term complications may include:

  • Bowel obstruction.
  • Dumping syndrome (causing diarrhea, nausea or vomiting).
  • Gallstones.
  • Hernias.
  • Low blood sugar.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Stomach perforation.
  • Ulcers.
  • Vomiting.

Note that bariatric surgery can have fatal complications as well, but that these are exceptionally rare.

Complications Associated with Specific Bariatric Procedures

The above risks and side effects will vary in frequency and severity by bariatric procedure. The risks most associated with three of the more commonly performed bariatric procedures include:

Gastric Bypass

  • Dumping syndrome.
  • Gallstones.
  • Hernia.
  • Internal bleeding.
  • Leakage.
  • Perforation of the stomach or intestines.
  • Pulmonary and/or cardiac issues.
  • Skin separation.
  • Stomach or intestine ulceration.
  • Vitamin or iron deficiency.

Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band (LAP-BAND)

  • Band slippage, erosion or deflation.
  • Hernia.
  • Skin separation.

Sleeve Gastrectomy​

  • Blood clots.
  • Gallstones.
  • Hernia.
  • Internal bleeding.
  • Perforation of the stomach or intestines.
  • Skin separation.
  • Vitamin or iron deficiency.

Reducing Your Risk of Complications

Before undergoing your procedure, your bariatric surgeon will discuss the potential risks of your specific surgery with you, and in detail. At the same time, they will review your current lifestyle and overall healthiness.

You will also be provided with a pre-surgical plan to prepare you for surgery and help reduce some of these potential risks and side effects. As part of this plan, you may be asked to lower your body mass index (BMI) and increase your level of exercise — and, if you’re a smoker, quit smoking — before undergoing your procedure.

If you would like to discuss the various bariatric surgery options made available by Dallas Bariatric Center, sign up for a free informational consultation with a weight loss surgeon today.

How does gastric band surgery work?

The gastric band, also called laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB), is one of the safest and least invasive operations available to treat obesity. It is most commonly performed on patients with a BMI greater than 35, or on patients with a BMI of more than 30 with one or more obesity-related medical conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea or type 2 diabetes.

How the band works

In gastric banding, the bariatric surgeon uses a laparoscope with a camera to make a few tiny cuts (keyhole incisions) in the abdomen. The surgeon then places an adjustable silicone band around the top part of the stomach, leaving a tiny pouch that can hold a very small amount of food.

A plastic tube attached to the band is accessible through a port under the skin of the abdomen. The bariatric surgeon injects saline solution into the band through this port to inflate the band and make it tighter. Saline can also be removed to alter the degree of constriction around the stomach. The ability to tighten or loosen the band helps reduce side effects and improve weight loss.

General anesthesia is used during the surgery, and the procedure usually takes between 30 and 60 minutes. Patients typically go home the day after the procedure.

Side effects and results of the gastric band

Gastric banding is designed to restrict the amount of food that your stomach can hold so you feel full sooner and lose weight, without reducing the absorption of calories and nutrients.

The most common issues experienced following gastric banding are:

  • Nausea and vomiting, which can often be reduced by adjusting the tightness of the band.
  • Minor surgical complications, such as wound infections or minor bleeding, which occur less than 10 percent of the time.

Since the gastric band does not interfere with food absorption, vitamin deficiencies following this procedure are rare.

As with all bariatric procedures, results will vary from person to person. However, on average, gastric banding leads to a loss of approximately 35 to 45 percent of excess weight. If necessary, the procedure can be reversed (i.e. the band can be removed), since the surgery does not alter the anatomy of the stomach.

Interested in the gastric band?

If you would like to find out more about gastric banding and see if you qualify, sign up for a free informational consultation with a weight loss surgeon at Dallas Bariatric Center today.

What is a pre- and post-operative bariatric diet like?

One of the most common questions patients have for their bariatric surgeons is what type of diet they will need to follow before and after their surgery. While bariatric surgeons provide their patients with customized diets based on the specific surgery being performed and the individual’s unique health and lifestyle factors, most bariatric diets follow certain guidelines.

Below is a general outline of what you can expect a typical pre-operative and post-operative diet to look like.

Pre-surgery diet

Pre-surgery bariatric diets are typically high in protein and low in carbohydrates. This type of diet reduces bleeding, promotes healing and helps reduce the amount of fat in and around your liver and abdomen (an enlarged liver can make a surgery more difficult because it can obstruct the surgeon’s view).

Losing weight before surgery not only keeps you safer during the procedure, but it also helps train you for a new way of eating. Making lifelong changes to your eating is essential for success and lasting change.

The pre-op diet consists largely of protein shakes and other high-protein, low-calorie foods that are easy to digest. As your surgery date approaches, you may need to follow a mostly-liquid or liquid-only diet. Based on your weight and overall health, your doctor may allow you to eat some solids during this time. You may also need to take certain vitamins to ensure you’re receiving the proper nutrients.

Post-surgery diet

Post-surgery bariatric diets consist of several stages, and your doctor or dietician will determine how long each stage should last and what you can eat and drink. Portion control is key during every stage, as it is an essential habit that will help you continue to lose weight and prepare you for the way you will eat for the rest of your life.

Stage one: Liquid diet

For the first few days after surgery, you will only be allowed to drink a few ounces of clear liquids at a time. This will help your stomach heal without being stretched out by food. After clear liquids, you will graduate to additional types of liquid that may include:

  • Decaffeinated coffee and tea
  • Skim milk
  • Thin soup and broth
  • Unsweetened juice

Stage two: Pureed diet

Once your doctor decides you’re ready, you can begin consuming pureed foods that have a thick, pudding-like consistency. You can puree many foods with a food processor or blender. V-8 juice and first-stage baby foods that don’t contain solids are also convenient options.

Stage three: Soft diet

Most bariatric patients won’t move into this stage until between six and eight weeks after surgery. Once you’re ready, however, you will be able to start incorporating soft, easy-to-chew foods into your diet, such as:

  • Soft-boiled eggs
  • Ground meat
  • Cooked white fish
  • Canned fruits

Stage four: Stabilization

This final stage occurs when solid foods are reintroduced into your diet and usually begins around two months after surgery. Food will still need to be chopped into small bites, since your stomach will be smaller and large pieces of food can cause issues.

Foods will need to be reintroduced slowly in order to figure out which ones your stomach can handle and which ones it can’t. Foods that are hard to digest should still be avoided at this point. This includes fibrous or stringy vegetables, popcorn, bread, bread products and fried food.

A healthy diet for life

About four months after surgery, you may be able to resume eating normally. However, portion control will continue to be important and your diet should primarily consist of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy carbohydrates.

If you would like to find out if you qualify for bariatric surgery, sign up for a free informational consultation with a weight loss surgeon at Dallas Bariatric Center today.

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