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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Risk of Surgery


Bariatric surgery is typically reserved for those individuals 100 pounds or more overweight (Body Mass Index [BMI] of 40 or higher) who have not responded to other less invasive weight loss therapies such as diet, exercise, medications, etc.

In certain circumstances, less morbidly obese patients (with BMIs between 35 and 40) may be considered for bariatric surgery (patients with high-risk co-morbid conditions and obesity-induced physical problems that are interfering with quality of life).

Important Considerations

Bariatric surgery should not be considered until you and your doctor have evaluated all other options. The proper approach to bariatric surgery requires discussion and careful consideration of the following with your doctor:

  • These weight loss procedures are in no way to be considered as cosmetic surgery.
  • The surgery does not involve the removal of adipose tissue (fat) by suction or excision.
  • A decision to elect surgical treatment requires an assessment of the risk and benefit to the patient and the meticulous performance of the appropriate surgical procedure.
  • The success of bariatric surgery is dependent upon long-term lifestyle changes in diet and exercise.
  • Problems may arise after surgery that may require reoperations.

Success of surgical weight loss treatment must begin with realistic goals and progress through the best possible use of well-designed and tested operations.

Complications and Risks of Bariatric Surgery

As with any surgery, there are operative and long-term complications and risks associated with weight loss surgical procedures that should be discussed with your doctor. Possible risks include, but are not limited to:
  • Bleeding*
  • Complications due to anesthesia and medications
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Dehiscence
  • Infections
  • Leaks from staple line breakdown
  • Marginal ulcers
  • Pulmonary problems
  • Spleen injury*
  • Stenosis

*Removal of the spleen is necessary in about 0.3% of patients to control operative bleeding.

What happens if the operation cannot be performed or completed by the laparoscopic method?

In some patients the laparoscopic method does not work effectively. Factors that may increase the possibility of choosing or converting to the "open" procedure may include:
  • a history of prior abdominal surgery causing dense scar tissue
  • inability to visualize organs
  • bleeding problems during the operation

If bariatric surgery is performed laparoscopically and complications occur during the operation, your doctor may choose to perform open surgery.

The decision to perform the open procedure is a judgment decision made by your surgeon either before or during the actual operation. The decision to convert to an open (conventional) procedure is strictly based on patient safety.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Laparoscopic and Bariatric Surgery

You can access a list of questions here to ask your doctor about laparoscopic and bariatric surgery.

More weight loss surgery information...

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