How safe is bariatric (stomach bypass) surgery?

I had considered having bariatric surgery myself.   However, I was fortunate enough to go to Structure House and lose weight (125 lbs) on their program, without surgery.  Had I not lost the weight, I probably would have had surgery.

But for many people, bariatric surgery can be life saving.  It eliminates diabetes in 75% of people who have the disease.  It often eliminates sleep apnea.  It improves sex life.

For more information of the different types of operations, see WebMD.

In general, the more extensive operations have higher complication rates, but produce more weight loss.  The least invasive is the gastric banding – you’ll see many ads for these.

In the Journal of the American Medical Association, a new article shows:

The frequency of serious complications within 30 days of surgery among patients undergoing bariatric surgery in Michigan was relatively low. Overall, 7.3% of patients experienced perioperative complications, most of which were wound problems and other minor complications.

Serious complications were less likely to occur in hospitals and with surgeons with greater experience and number of cases done.  Choose wisely!

Long-term complications can also occur; see the Mayo Clinic website.


Dr John Ellis MD

Board-certified anesthesiologist, with expertise in cardiovascular anesthesia and the implications of obesity and sleep apnea in anesthesia. See vascularanesthesia.com for professional information. Dr. Ellis has used the strategies in here to: (1) lose 120 lbs over 18 months, (2) stop all antihypertensive medicines, and (3) no longer need CPAP treatment for sleep apnea.

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