Gastric bypass surgery can be a lifesaver for the obese who have difficulty losing weight, but it can also pose serious health risks, causing debilitating side effects that can eventually lead to death.
Please note: None of this information constitutes medical advice, but rather a guide to help you discuss bariatric surgery options and side effects with your doctor.
Side effects of gastric bypass
Nearly one million people have opted for bariatric surgeries as a last-resort means of losing weight to prevent heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, and most are successful.
But about 30% of patients find that they have traded one set of ailments for another, often battling several forms of anemia, such as vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, iron deficiency, and folate deficiency, in addition to illnesses such as osteoporosis and hypoglycemia.
Additionally, about 20% of gastric bypass surgery patients require addition operations in order to treat complications that may arise, such as ulcers or fecal incontinence.
Furthermore, a large number continue to suffer from depression and anxiety related to their food addictions and mentality regarding weight. According to some studies, weight loss surgery patients are five times more likely to commit suicide than the general population.
Finally, about 20% of patients who elect for bariatric surgery ultimately gain all their weight back, and continue to suffer side effects caused by the invasive procedure.
Side effects and complications that may occur following gastric bypass may include:
- Pernicious anemia, vitamin B12 deficiency: Removal of the ileum interferes with your ability to digest vitamin B12 naturally from foods, so unless you continue to supplement with non-dietary vitamin B12, then you are at high risk for developing symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, depression, confusion, anxiety, mental sluggishness, poor concentration, painful numbness in the hands and feet, muscle spasms, and many other symptoms of severe vitamin B12 depletion.
- Other types of malnutrition may also develop as a result of failure to provide daily B vitamins and other supplements. Folic acid anemia, iron deficiency anemia, low calcium, and vitamin C deficiency can cause pain, fatigue, bruising, swelling, poor healing, and frequent illnesses.
- Osteoporosis caused by low stomach acid production and calcium depletion is a common side effect that is treated by taking calcium supplements with citric acid.
- Ulcers may develop in the small intestine, requiring surgery.
- Many patients experience frequent dehydration resulting from smaller stomach size.
- Rapid weight loss may cause constant fatigue, mood swings, chronic pain, hair loss, and sensitivity to changes in temperature.
- Noninsulinoma pancreatogenous hypoglycemia syndrome (NIPHS) can sometimes result following gastric bypass surgery, causing neurological symptoms such as seizures, and will require pancreatic surgery.
- Gastric dumping syndrome often occurs while eating, as food moves too quickly through your body and causes stomach pain, bloating, and dizziness.
- Many bariatric surgery patients suffer from extreme constipation, causing side effects of stomach pain, fecal incontinence, diarrhea, and intense bloating.
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