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Is bariatric surgery safe?

March 25, 2021

There is a lot of misinformation surrounding bariatric surgery, and it’s likely that some of what you’ve heard is mere hearsay. But if you’re ready to pursue bariatric surgery to change your life for the better, what you really want to understand is whether or not bariatric surgery is safe.

Surgery requirements

It’s important to understand that bariatric surgery isn’t offered as the first weight-loss option for people. It is often only turned to when individuals are unable to lose weight despite repeated diet and exercise regimens. Many people choose bariatric procedures to improve their health because they are at an elevated risk of life-threatening diseases like heart disease, certain cancers, and Type 2 diabetes. They may already have some health problems related to weight, such as high blood pressure. Regardless, patients are unable to undergo bariatric surgery unless they meet certain guidelines.

Surgery risks

There is always a risk when you undergo surgery under anesthesia, whether it’s for a broken bone or bariatric surgery. Risks of surgery include: excess bleeding, infection of surgery site, blood clots, and reactions to anesthesia. While death is extremely rare, it is important to note that there is risk of death with even the simplest surgeries. With bariatric surgery, you may also experience leaks in the gastrointestinal system. Before undergoing bariatric surgery, your surgery team will conduct thorough tests to ensure you are healthy enough for surgery. You may have to change your habits before surgery, such as eliminating smoking and drinking.

Risks depending on type of bariatric procedure

There are several different types of bariatric surgery—among the most common being gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and gastric banding (the Lap-Band® Procedure). The risk of complications goes up depending on how complicated the surgery you choose is. For instance, during gastric bypass surgery, a small stomach pouch is cut and part of the small intestine is cut and sewn directly into the pouch. During a sleeve gastrectomy, a majority of the stomach is removed. The Lap-Band Procedure, however, does not require any cutting or rerouting of the intestines or stomach, making it a safer, simpler procedure with fewer complications and lower mortality rates. A band is laparoscopically placed at the top of the stomach, creating a smaller stomach pouch. It also does not take as long to perform as other bariatric procedures. The procedure is typically performed in less than an hour, and you can usually return home the same day. It boasts the shortest recovery time of all the bariatric procedures. If for any reason your Lap-Band needs to be removed, it is easily reversible, unlike other bariatric procedures.

Safety conclusion

Despite some risks, bariatric surgery is still considered one of the safest surgeries patients can undergo, especially when you consider the technological advancements made in recent years and the improved aftercare programs. It is also important to note that taking on surgery risks may mitigate the consequences of morbid obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease, and other weight-related health conditions.

The Latest

Important Lap-Band® System Safety Information

The ReShape Lap-Band Systems are approved for adults with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or a BMI of at least 30 with health conditions related to obesity, who have not seen success with other weight loss methods, like supervised diet, exercise, and behavior modification programs. Choosing this surgery means committing to changes in eating habits for the long term.

The Lap-Band procedure is not approved for individuals under 18 yo, those with conditions that may make them poor surgical candidates or lead to poor results, such as inflammatory or cardiopulmonary diseases, problems with the stomach and digestion, symptoms or family history of autoimmune disease, scarring of the liver, individuals unable or unwilling to follow the necessary dietary restrictions, individuals with alcohol or drug addictions, or those currently pregnant. Individuals who become pregnant after band placement may require deflation of their bands.

The ReShape Lap-Band Systems, a long-term tool, may need to be adjusted if you get pregnant, sick, or malnourished. Be careful with anti-inflammatory drugs as they could make the band wear away. Like any surgery, placement of the Lap-Band may have complications such as risks from drugs and methods used, general surgery risks, how well your body handles a foreign object, or in rare cases, risk of death.

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with metabolic and bariatric surgery that you and your doctor should discuss. Potential risks associated with the Lap-Band include nausea, vomiting, heartburn, stomach blockage, constipation, swallowing difficulty, diarrhea, abnormal stools, abdominal pain, weakness, incision pain, infection, fever, hernia, chest pain, band movement, stomach pouch expansion, unusual healing, pain at the port site, port movement, and/or hair loss. Additional surgery might be needed. Losing weight quickly could lead to complications requiring more surgery. 

Talk to your doctor, and/or visit our website at for more information on its benefits and risks.