Minimally invasive techniques may be combined with an open surgery in some cases. Additionally, your surgeon may decide after beginning a minimally invasive technique that you need open surgery to complete your surgery safely.

Your surgeon will advise you on which procedure is best for you and how long you need to stay in the hospital based on your diagnosis, age, medical history, general health, and possibly your personal preference. Learn about the different gastric bypass surgeries and ask why your surgeon will use a particular type for you.

Types of anesthesia that may be used

General anesthesia is used for gastric bypass. General anesthesia is a combination of intravenous (IV) medications and gases that put you in a deep sleep. You are unaware of the procedure and do not feel pain. 

What to expect the day of your gastric bypass

The day of your surgery, you can generally expect to:

  • Talk with a preoperative nurse. The nurse will perform an exam and ensure that all needed tests are in order. The nurse can also answer questions and will make sure you understand and sign the surgical consent form.
  • Remove all clothing and jewelry and dress in a hospital gown. It is a good idea to leave all jewelry and valuables at home or with a family member if possible. Your care team will give you blankets for modesty and warmth.
  • Talk with the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist about your medical history and the type of anesthesia you will have.   
  • A surgical team member will start an IV.
  • The anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will start your anesthesia.
  • A tube will be placed in your windpipe to protect and control breathing during general anesthesia. You will not feel or remember this or the surgery as they happen.
  • The surgical team will monitor your vital signs and other critical body functions. This occurs throughout surgery and recovery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and vital signs are stable.

What are the risks and potential complications of gastric bypass?  

As with all surgeries, gastric bypass involves risks and the possible complications. Complications may become serious and life threatening in some cases. Complications can develop during surgery or recovery.

General risks of surgery 

The general risks of surgery include: 

  • Anesthesia reaction, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing 
  • Bleeding or hemorrhage (heavy bleeding), which can lead to shock
  • Blood clot, in particular a deep vein thrombosis that develops in the leg or pelvis. A blood clot can move to your lungs, heart or brain and cause a pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.
  • Death
  • Infection and septicemia, which is the spread of a local infection to the blood

Potential complications of gastric bypass

Complications of gastric bypass include:

  • Constipation
  • Damage to abdominal organs or major blood vessels
  • Dehydration
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Dumping syndrome (rapid emptying of stomach contents into the small intestine causing symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, cramping, and abdominal pain)
  • Gallstones
  • Gastritis (irritated stomach tissue), ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux (regurgitation), and heartburn 
  • Hernias 
  • Intestinal stricture (narrowing) 
  • Leaking of digested foods and digestive juices into the abdominal cavity from the area where organs are sewed together 
  • Malnutrition including vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This can lead to long-term complications, such as osteoporosis, anemia, and permanent nervous system damage
  • Nausea, vomiting, gas and bloating
  • Poor weight loss results or inability to maintain long-term weight loss 

Reducing your risk of complications

You can reduce the risk of certain complications by following your treatment plan and:

  • Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations 
  • Notifying your doctor right away of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, increase in pain, or wound redness, swelling or drainage 
  • Taking your medications and vitamin and mineral supplements exactly as directed
  • Telling all members of your care team if you have any allergies