Bariatric Surgery Side Effects - Know Risks and Complications

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Priyanka Sharma
Written by Dr Sania Datta, last updated on 9 January 2023
Bariatric Surgery Side Effects - Know Risks and Complications

Exercise and diet alone often fail to treat people with excessive obesity effectively. Bariatric surgery is one of the weight loss procedures performed to help such individuals lose weight. But, before getting bariatric surgery, people also wonder about bariatric surgery side effects. 

Bariatric surgery requires a significant lifestyle change and a long-term commitment to healthy eating and regular exercise. However, for many individuals, it can be a safe and effective way to achieve significant and lasting weight loss, as well as to improve or resolve related health conditions.

So, if you want to know about bariatric surgery risks, side effects and complications, keep reading further.

What is Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, is a type of surgery that is performed on people who are obese or severely overweight. Bariatric surgery addresses the cause of excess fat by altering the digestive tract. It includes many procedures, such as gastric band, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass. These procedures shrink the size of the stomach and change how much you can eat by limiting the number of calories you can consume.

However, these bariatric surgery procedures are accompanied by several risks, complications and side effects.

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Bariatric Surgery Risks and Complications

While bariatric surgery can offer many benefits, all types of weight-loss surgery are major procedures that can pose serious risks and complications.

Some bariatric surgery risks and complications include:

  1. Infection: As with any surgery, there is a risk of infection after bariatric surgery. Some possible sources of infection include bacteria present on the skin, bacteria in the air or on instruments used during surgery, and bacteria that may be present in the patient's own gastrointestinal tract.
  2. Bleeding: Bleeding during bariatric surgery is a rare but possible complication. It can occur due to injury to a blood vessel during the procedure, or it may be related to factors such as the patient's blood clotting ability or the use of blood-thinning medications.
  3. Blood clots: There is a risk of blood clots forming in the legs or lungs after surgery.
  4. Nutrient deficiencies: Some bariatric surgery procedures can interfere with the body's ability to absorb nutrients, leading to deficiencies in important vitamins and minerals.
  5. Gallstones: Some people who have bariatric surgery may develop gallstones due to rapid weight loss. This may be because of sudden weight loss, malabsorption of nutrients or change in diet.
  6. Hernias: There is a risk of hernias forming at the surgery site because of excessive strain on the surgical incision site during the healing process, or sudden increase in abdominal pressure.
  7. Anaesthesia risks: As with any surgery requiring anaesthesia, there are risks like allergies associated with using it.
  8. Death: While rare, there is a risk of death associated with bariatric surgery.

Bariatric Surgery Side Effects

If you are looking for what are the side effects of bariatric surgery then you are at the right place. Keep reading to know more.

Here are some common bariatric bypass surgery side effects:

  1. Nausea and vomiting: These symptoms are usually temporary and can be managed with medications prescribed by your doctor.
  2. Constipation: This can be a side effect of the changes in your diet and how your body absorbs nutrients after surgery. Your doctor may recommend medications or other treatment options to help manage constipation.
  3. Stomach cramps: Some people may experience stomach cramps or discomfort after bariatric surgery. This can be due to changes in the size and shape of the stomach or how food moves through the intestines.
  4. Hair loss: It is common to experience temporary hair loss after bariatric surgery, but this usually resolves on its own within a few months.
  5. Nutrient deficiencies: Bariatric surgery can affect the way your body absorbs nutrients, which can lead to deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals. Your doctor will likely recommend supplements to ensure you get the nutrients you need.
  6. Leakage from the surgical site: In rare cases, there may be a leak at the surgical site, which can cause an infection. Your doctor will monitor you closely for any signs of infection after surgery.

Tips to avoid bariatric surgery side effects

Like any other surgery, bariatric surgery may also cause some side effects. To rectify the bariatric bypass surgery side effects-

  1. It is important to follow the recommendations of your healthcare team, including taking any prescribed medications to avoid any bariatric surgery side effects. 
  2. Follow a recommended diet and exercise plan.
  3. It may also be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional, as the changes that occur after bariatric surgery can be significant and can affect a person's emotional well-being.
If you are experiencing severe or persistent bariatric surgery side effects, you must speak with your healthcare team for further evaluation and treatment.


If you are considering bariatric surgery, it is important to consult a doctor to determine if it is the right option for you, as it may also have potential side effects. A doctor can help you evaluate your health and assess whether you are a good candidate for the procedure. They can also discuss bariatric surgery side effects and benefits with you and help you make an informed decision about whether it is the right choice for you.

HexaHealth is a one-stop solution for all your health-related problems. With HexaHealth, you don’t have to be alone in your weight loss journey. The top doctors, top surgeons and the best hospitals empanelled in their network provide complete care services and hassle-free surgery experience. They will also help you understand what to expect before, during, and after the surgery and provide you with support and guidance throughout the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the bariatric surgery side effects?

Bariatric surgery side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain, and acid reflux. It can also lead to nutrient deficiencies and other long-term complications.

What is the most common complication of bariatric surgery?

The most common bariatric surgery side effect is an infection at the surgical site. Infection may occur due to bacteria present on the skin, bacteria in the air or on instruments used during surgery, and bacteria that may be present in the patient's own gastrointestinal tract.

What are the negative effects of gastric bypass surgery?

Gastric bypass surgery can cause infection, excessive bleeding, blood clots, pulmonary embolism, leakage, malnutrition, gallstones, hernias, hair loss, changes in bowel habits, depression, and difficulty with sexual function.

What is the success rate of bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery has a high success rate, with many patients experiencing significant weight loss and improvement in related health conditions. The success of the surgery depends on various factors such as the type of surgery, the patient's commitment to making lifestyle changes, and the presence of any complications.

What are pros and cons of bariatric surgery?

Some pros of bariatric surgery include significant and sustained weight loss, improvement or resolution of obesity-related health conditions (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea), and quality of life. 

Some cons of bariatric surgery include the risks of complications from surgery, the need for a lifelong commitment to healthy lifestyle habits, and the possibility of not achieving desired weight loss goals.

What is life expectancy after gastric bypass?

Life expectancy after gastric bypass surgery is generally not reduced and may even be increased due to the improved health outcomes associated with the procedure.

Can your stomach go back to normal after gastric bypass?

It is not possible for the stomach to go back to its original size after gastric bypass surgery. The stomach is made smaller during the surgery. However, if the recommended lifestyle changes are not followed, it can result in the failure of gastric bypass surgery.

Which bariatric surgery is the safest?

Generally, laparoscopic surgery (performed using small incisions and specialised instruments) is associated with a lower risk of complications than open surgery (which involves a larger incision). However, all forms of bariatric surgery carry some risks, and the safest procedure for any individual patient will depend on their specific medical history and needs. 

How long does bariatric surgery take from start to finish?

The length of a bariatric surgery procedure can vary depending on the specific type of surgery being performed and the patient's medical condition. In general, laparoscopic bariatric surgery procedures (such as laparoscopic gastric bypass or gastric banding) tend to be shorter than open surgical procedures and may take anywhere from one to three hours to complete. Open surgery procedures (such as open gastric bypass or open gastric sleeve) may take longer, possibly four to six hours or more.

Who is not a candidate for bariatric surgery?

Some examples of people who may not be candidates for bariatric surgery include people with certain types of cancer or active infections, with severe liver or kidney disease, with a history of alcoholism or drug abuse, and people who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the near future or those who are not committed to making the necessary lifestyle changes (such as following a healthy diet and exercising regularly) to achieve and maintain weight loss.

Is bariatric surgery high-risk?

Bariatric surgery is considered a major surgical procedure and carries a risk of complications, as with any surgery. However, the risk of complications associated with bariatric surgery is generally low, and many people experience significant improvements in their health and quality of life after undergoing the procedure.

Can you ever drink soda again after gastric sleeve?

It is generally not recommended to drink soda after gastric sleeve surgery or after any other form of bariatric surgery. Sugary drinks like soda can contribute to weight gain and negatively impact weight loss efforts. They can also interfere with the absorption of nutrients and lead to other health problems.

How do you sleep after bariatric surgery?

Sleeping after bariatric surgery can be challenging for some people, as the body is undergoing significant changes and may take time to adjust.

How long do you need off work after gastric sleeve surgery?

The amount of time off work needed after gastric sleeve surgery can vary depending on the patient’s recovery. In general, most people can return to work within one to two weeks of surgery, although some may need to take more time off depending on their overall recovery.

Can I drink coffee after bariatric surgery?

Coffee can generally be consumed after bariatric surgery, but it is important to pay attention to how it is consumed and to the overall quality of the diet. You can have plain, black coffee without added sugar or cream.

Updated on : 9 January 2023


Dr. Priyanka Sharma

Dr. Priyanka Sharma

MBBS, DNB Plastic Surgery

14 Years Experience

Dr Priyanka Sharma is a well-known Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon associated with HealthPort Clinic in Delhi. She has 14 years of experience in Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic surgery and worked as an expert Plastic,...View More


Dr Sania Datta

Dr Sania Datta

BDS (Panjab University) I MBA Hospital & Health Management (IIHMR Jaipur)

8 Years Experience

She is a high-impact healthcare management and medical content professional with enriching work experience in Parexel, HexaHealth Technologies, Apollo Munich, Credihealth and Fortis Hospital. Armed with deep and c...View More

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