All surgery involves some risk. Risks can be broken down into two groups, those related to surgery in general and those specific to the operation being performed. Risks of surgery in general include risks of anaesthetics, infections inside the abdomen and in the wound, lung problems, blood clots in the leg or lungs and, very rarely, death. If you have other health problems such as heart or lung problems, diabetes, smoking the general risks of surgery are increased.
When assessing the risks of surgery you must also consider and balance the risks of not having the surgery and remaining significantly overweight.
These will be discussed in detail with you prior to the operation by your surgeon.
The following are the commonest of the complications but please note that this is not a comprehensive list of possible complications but does cover most events.
The Risk of the Anaesthetic
Anaesthetic risks are extremely low because when you come to your operation any conditions which might increase your anaesthetic risk such as high blood pressure, diabetes or sleep apnoea will have been brought under control. All of our anaesthetists are experienced with dealing with the specific problems of patients with excess weight and have full access to all of the tests and information gathered during your preoperative assessment.
Although uncommon, bleeding can occur during an otherwise routine operation and could require blood transfusion and possibly abandoning the laparoscopic (keyhole) approach for a major incision in the abdomen. Occasionally, after a routine operation, bleeding can commence some hours after an operation and require a return to the operating theatre.
Again these are uncommon with laparoscopic surgery, but occasionally one of the small keyhole wounds can become infected and require antibiotics or drainage. Uncommonly, an infection inside the abdominal cavity or the chest can occur.
Damage to Other Organs
Although uncommon, during laparoscopic surgery it is possible to inadvertently damage another organ such as the spleen or the bowel. Normally this can be diagnosed and repaired during the operation but very rarely this damage may not be obvious until some hours or even days after the procedure and will then require appropriate management.
Conversion to Open Operation
Rarely, it is not possible to complete an operation with keyhole surgery and a full abdominal incision may be necessary. This is more likely to be the case if you have had previous surgery on your stomach such as a gastric band or stomach stapling.
Blood Clots to the Legs or Lung (Pulmonary Embolus)
Blood clots to the legs or the lungs are a very serious complication. At LapSurgery we use the maximum protection against this occurring. Shortly before the operation you will be given a blood thinning injection and have stockings placed on your legs. A further device will also be placed on your legs which keeps pumping blood through your legs whilst you’re asleep to minimise the chance of a clot forming whilst you are on the operating table.
Using these precautions and the early mobilisation after the surgery that is possible with the keyhole operation, these complications have been uncommon in our patients.
To read more about risks of the type of surgery you are considering, see information about the types of surgeries we offer here: