Can bariatric surgery errors cause inability to keep food down?

When some people have difficulty maintaining weight at a healthy level, they consider bariatric weight loss surgery. Bariatric surgeons tout the health benefits of weight-loss surgery, which can include reducing blood pressure to a normal range, curing diabetes, and helping with sleep apnea. There’s no doubt that many people have had positive experiences of bariatric surgery.

As with any surgery, though, it’s important to be fully informed before making the decision to proceed with the weight-loss surgery. Here are four common questions that potential patients should ask. Also, see our guide about Texas bariatric weight-loss surgery and medical malpractice.

Is bariatric surgery right for me?

For a person to be a candidate for bariatric surgery, medical professionals typically require a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or a BMI of 35 and up if there are obesity-related conditions such as type II diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), or sleep apnea.

Additionally, it’s standard practice for bariatric surgeons to refer patients for a psychiatric or psychological assessment to ensure they’re a good candidate for weight-loss surgery, and to a dietitian for nutritional advice.

What type of bariatric surgery should I get?

There are many types of bariatric surgery, some are reversible and others aren’t. Some procedures focus on decreasing the size of the stomach, others focus on decreasing absorption of nutrients, and others achieve both goals.

The most common types of bariatric surgery include:

  • Gastric bypass surgery, including Roux-en-Y bypass. This permanent surgery creates a small stomach pouch that’s connected to a distal part of the intestines. The small pouch decreases the size of the stomach, and the re-routing as much of the intestines reduces absorption of nutrients.
  • Sleeve gastrectomy. This permanent surgery involves removing most of the stomach, creating a smaller stomach pouch.
  • Adjustable gastric banding. This is a reversible procedure where a band is placed around the stomach to create a small pouch above the band.
  • Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch. This is the most extensive bariatric procedure, typically for people who are extremely overweight, with a BMI of over 50. It’s a form of bypass procedure.

What are the risks and benefits of bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery practices often focus on the benefits of procedures, which include short and long- term weight loss, a better quality of life, and curing underlying health conditions such as type II diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and joint pain.

In our experience, the potential risks of bariatric surgery are less discussed. We’ve represented clients who had bariatric surgery because of being severely overweight, but struggled to stay above 100 pounds because of botched surgical care.

Gastric outlet obstruction is one of most common problems, it is often caused by a surgical error that makes it impossible for food to pass through the digestive system. This can happen when the bariatric surgeon creates a stomach pouch that’s too small or performs stitching or stapling incorrectly. At Painter Law Firm, people who've had bariatric surgery call us with a familiar phrase: "I'm having trouble keeping food and liquids down after a bariatric surgery. Do I have a case if I'm in Texas?"

Another post-operative problem is gastric dumping syndrome, where food moves so quickly through the digestive system, a person suffers from severe nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This can happen when a weight-loss surgeon bypasses too much of the intestine, allowing little to no absorption to occur.

What changes do I need to make to my lifestyle after the surgery?

It’s important to understand that some lifestyle changes are necessary to make bariatric surgery a long-term solution. This includes diet and exercise, but also taking supplements to offset malabsorption. One of the most dreaded complications of bariatric surgery is Wernicke encephalopathy, a dreaded brain and neurologic condition caused by thiamine deficiency in bariatric surgery patients.

If you’ve been harmed by poor bariatric weight-loss surgical care in Texas, then contact a top-rated, experienced Texas medical malpractice attorney for a free strategy session about your potential case. Average payouts exceed $1 million for the most common complication of bariatric weight-loss surgery.

Robert Painter
Article by

Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.