Bariatric Surgery Complications

Chronic obesity is a very serious problem for millions of people around the world. Fortunately, bariatric surgery is a potential solution with long-lasting results. Candidates can enjoy many benefits after these types of procedures, including living a healthier lifestyle and significantly reducing their risk of disease. Any surgical procedure carries the risk of complications, however, and bariatric surgery is no exception.

To ensure that patients understand and are prepared for potential bariatric surgery complications, the medical team working with the Tijuana Bariatric Center in Tijuana, Mexico will thoroughly explain what to expect and discuss any myths and misconceptions you have found in your research. You can also minimize your risk of complications by thoroughly researching care providers and choosing a reputable practice.

Patient Risk Factors

Some risk factors that can predispose patients to complications from bariatric surgery are:

  • High body mass index (BMI)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Sleep apnea
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Deep vein clots, pulmonary embolism, or clotting problems
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Potential Complications

Rare and short-term risks of bariatric surgery include:

  • Infection
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Anesthesia reactions
  • Breathing problems
  • Blood clots
  • Gastrointestinal leaks
  • Dehydration
  • Moderate swelling, bruising, or pain
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Temporary hair loss

In most cases, side effects are uncomfortable or unpleasant, but not serious enough to endanger patients. However, if any of these symptoms become severe, patients should alert their doctor immediately.

Some of the more common long-term risks include:

  • Indigestion and nausea: These concerns can usually be treated with dietary changes. If indigestion persists, medication such as antacids may be indicated. Patients might also experience an intolerance to certain foods or suffer from nausea and vomiting.
  • Dumping syndrome: Dumping syndrome occurs when the stomach is rapidly emptied of food (especially sugar). Patients may experience weakness, dizziness, flushing and warmth, nausea, and heart palpitations immediately or shortly after eating. This complication can be managed by sticking with the prescribed bariatric diet.
  • Band problems: Band problems for patients who have had LAP-Band surgery may include band slippage, band leakage, band intolerance, and band erosion. Either another bariatric surgery or band removal is necessary to fix these issues.
  • Changes in bowel function: Bowel function changes after bariatric surgery can include loose stools or diarrhea, constipation, and gurgling noises. Most of these ailments can be managed with dietary changes.

Other complications include gallstones, hernias, food entrapment, pouch complications, hair loss, and malnutrition. Hair loss and malnutrition can be minimized or avoided by eating a recommended bariatric diet, as well as taking any prescribed nutritional supplements.

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How to Minimize Complications

Patients can take steps to minimize any potential complications from bariatric surgery. Most importantly, candidates should lose as much weight as possible before surgery. The lower the patient’s BMI, the lower their surgical risks. Starting a healthy, bariatric diet well before surgery is recommended.

  • Take Precautions Before Treatment – The patient should also be thoroughly informed about what to expect before and after the surgery, including the lifestyle changes that will be required for a successful outcome. The patient should make friends and family aware of these changes so that they can be supportive. The patient should get tested for sleep apnea several weeks before surgery, as sleep apnea is highly undiagnosed and can pose significant surgical and post-surgical risks. 
  • Exercise after Surgery – Following the surgery, patients should engage in light activity as soon as possible to promote healing and circulation. Walking is usually the type of exercise recommended for several weeks post-surgery. Patients should quit smoking before surgery since smoking puts patients at a higher risk for postoperative blood clots, pneumonia, heart attacks, and death.
  • Establish a Support System – Patients should develop a good support system including friends, family, an in-person weight loss surgery support group, or an online support group.

This place was amazing. The care was first rate. The coordinators were so kind. I changed my mind a ton of times and they were so patient with me. I'm so happy I had my procedure and I'm so happy I used Tijuana Bariatric Center.

— Lori Ann Barnson

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Preparing for Bariatric Surgery Side Effects

The nature of bariatric surgery produces a cascade of effects on the body, not all of which are pleasant. The doctors working through the Tijuana Bariatric Center can teach patients about potential bariatric surgery side effects, as well as signs to watch out for and when to pursue medical attention. The team can also help you separate valid concerns from common myths and misconceptions you may find in your research.

Setting Appropriate Expectations

Before undergoing treatment, it is essential to understand that surgery is an extreme procedure. The body’s internal systems and functions are permanently altered. Going into surgery, bariatric patients should be prepared for a number of potential side effects. Some of these are the expected result of changes to the digestive system while many are simply the body’s normal reaction to surgery.

Warning Signs of Complications

If you experience the following indicators, you may be developing post-surgical complications:

  • Fever of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or above
  • Redness, swelling, increased pain, or pus-like drainage from incision site
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting lasting more than 12 hours
  • Urinating fewer than four times in 24 hours
  • Pain that cannot be relieved with appropriate medication

Managing Common Side Effects

Of the many side effects a bariatric patient can experience, the three seen most often are nausea and vomiting, dehydration, and constipation and diarrhea. While these conditions are typically not dangerous for a short duration, they can easily become so over a long period of time.

  • Adjust Eating Habits – To avoid vomiting, you will need to develop healthy habits and adjust how you eat. For example, you will need to chew thoroughly before swallowing to reduce stress on your digestive system and keep your food moist. It is also helpful to stop halfway through a meal. This gives your system a chance to begin digesting without overloading. If you are still hungry afterward, you can always eat more. Most importantly of all, though, patients should stick to their post-surgery diet as closely as possible.
  • Dehydration – With limited space in the stomach, it is often difficult to consume sufficient liquids. Because water plays such an important role in our body, the effects of dehydration can be catastrophic: not only can it lead to bladder or kidney infections, it can leave patients weak, dizzy, and confused. If you are experiencing lower back pain or notice deep yellow or amber urine, you may be dehydrated. Fortunately, there are a number of simple ways to ease this discomfort. The average person needs at least 1.5 to 2 liters of water a day – about four bottles’ worth. If nausea makes drinking difficult, sucking on ice cubes can also be beneficial. However, patients should avoid drinking caffeinated beverages altogether.
  • Nausea and Vomiting – More often than not, these two side effects are connected. They are usually triggered by an increased sensitivity to odors, dehydration, a failure to recognize when you are full, eating too quickly, not chewing properly,  or even simply eating foods that do not agree with you.
  • Diarrhea and Constipation – Because your digestive system undergoes drastic changes, it can take your body a considerable amount of time to adjust after bariatric surgery. On the one hand, an altered diet and reduced caloric intake can cause patients to experience fewer bowel movements, which can make them more prone to constipation. But on the other hand, eating fatty or sugary foods can easily upset the stomach and cause diarrhea. Unfortunately, both side effects are particularly common. Patients should only become concerned if an individual episode lasts more than two days.
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Why Choose Tijuana Bariatric Center?

The Tijuana Bariatric Center in Mexico is a state-of-the-art weight loss destination for thousands of patients seeking improved health, enhanced quality of life, and greater mobility. Our skilled, board-certified surgeons have a 98% success rate across all procedures, thanks to their precision, cutting-edge techniques, and adherence to the highest international safety protocols.

At Tijuana Bariatric Center, your care doesn’t start and end with surgery. We follow a holistic treatment paradigm that includes in-depth patient education, ongoing dietary counseling, access to our supportive online communities, and extensive email and phone follow-up. We help patients to navigate not only the physical details of their weight loss process but the emotional and social components as well.

Our mission is also to ensure that the patients who need life-saving bariatric surgery the most have access to it. Our procedures are performed at reputable, immaculate hospitals for a fraction of the pricing found in the United States, Canada, and Europe. And as an extra bonus, we offer up to $3000 in medical tourism insurance for every procedure, included in the surgery price. We are the only practice in North America to do so. Our strongest desire is for patients to thrive and enjoy longevity thanks to our personalized, expert bariatric procedures.

We Can Help You Prepare

Handling the side effects that result from bariatric surgery can be overwhelming, but the doctors and nutritional counselors working through the Tijuana Bariatric Center can help you prepare for any potential complications. Contact the center today to take advantage of our support and learn more.

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