Gastric Bypass Surgery - Do You Know The Risks?
With obesity growing at an alarming rate more and more people are turning to gastric bypass surgery, but just how safe is weight-loss surgery?
Some 10 years ago approximately 20,000 weight-loss operations were performed in the US each year. This year that figure is estimated to reach a staggering 200,000.
Today about thirty percent of the population of America is overweight, with about 30 percent of these people being categorised as clinically obese. Furthermore, a staggering nine million adults are overweight by more than 100 pounds and are classed as morbidly obese.
For these people the traditional remedy of diet and exercise simply doesn't work and they are turning increasingly towards gastric bypass surgery.
The most commonly performed form of gastric bypass surgery today is a procedure known as Roux-en-Y which creates a stomach pouch, using a section of the stomach itself, that is then linked up to the small intestine, bypassing a large portion of both the stomach and the duodenum. treatment to hold significant quantities of food but, by bypassing the duodenum, fat absorption is also substantially reduced.
The growing popularity of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, helped by such things as its use by various high-profile celebrities, expanding coverage for the procedure by Medicare and some enterprising marketing, has led to an increase in the number of medical facilities providing the procedure. Several of these facilities are better than others and just a few are perhaps a little too concerned with the profit to be made from providing gastric bypass surgery. This, in turn, presents a growing danger for those thinking about surgery.
The results of surgery can be quite impressive, not only in terms of the weight loss produced but also in terms of the dramatic improvement that can be made to the patients overall quality of life. Nonetheless, gastric bypass surgery is a major surgical procedure and is certainly not suitable for everyone and is not without risks.
But exactly what risks are involved?
Well, the risks of gastric bypass surgery will obviously vary from case to case and anyone considering surgery should consult a doctor to find out the risks that surgery carries in their particular case. Here however, in general terms, are just a few of risks usually associated with gastric bypass surgery:
Death. As is the case with any major surgical procedure there is a risk of death associated with gastric bypass surgery and estimates put the short-term risk at roughly one or two percent. The risk varies with other medical conditions, age and general health.
Pneumonia. Excessive weight puts extra stress on the chest cavity and lungs. This results in an additional risk of contracting pneumonia after surgery.
A narrowing of the opening between the stomach and small intestine. Though rarely seen, this complication may require either an outpatient procedure in which a tube is passed through your mouth to widen the narrowed opening or surgery to correct the problem.
A leak along one of the staple lines in the stomach. Infection can result from leakage around the staples and this is typically cured using antibiotics. Most cases heal in time but, in some instances, this leakage can be sufficiently serious to need emergency surgery.
Blood clots forming in the legs. The risk of blood clots forming in the legs is most prevalent in the case of very overweight patients and, when blood clots do appear, the situation can be dangerous. Once in a while blood clots travel to the lungs where they lodge themselves in the arteries of the lung creating a pulmonary embolism - a serious and life-threatening condition which damages the lung tissue.
Gastric bypass surgery can also induce dumping syndrome, a condition in which the stomach contents move too rapidly through the small intestine causing sweating, vomiting, nausea, dizziness and diarrhoea.
Other commonly seen complications of gastric bypass surgery include intolerance to some foods, vitamin and mineral deficiency, gallstones, bleeding stomach ulcers, hernia and dehydration.
Advances in surgical techniques are making gastric bypass surgery safer by the day and the arrival of laparoscopic surgery and the use of robotics, currently being evaluated at Stanford University Medical Center in California, are also helping with patient recovery and reducing post-operative complications.
Despite the risks for each problem case there are a thousand cases of thinner and happier people walking around. So, if you are considering gastric bypass surgery talk to your doctor and, while you should certainly consider the risks, don't rule out the procedure simply because of them.
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