What kinds of complications can occur in the first few months after the surgery?

One of the big risks associated with gastric bypass surgery, especially if it is performed in the summer, is dehydration. The stomach pouch is very small, generally one to two ounces. If it is very hot you might have a hard time drinking enough water to prevent dehydration. I advise trying to sip water all day long and staying out of the hot sun. Vomiting is a very common occurrence. Vomiting can occur early on as a result of swelling (due to the surgery) of the tissue surrounding the opening (stoma) between your new stomach pouch and the intestines. This typically resolves as the swelling due to surgery subsides.

But sometimes scar tissue can develop at the same site. If or when the scar tissue creates a physical barrier that food cannot bypass, vomiting occurs. In this situation your surgeon may have to pass an endoscope (a tube with a light on the end that allows your doctor to see into your new pouch and even operate) into your stomach pouch and enlarge the opening a little. Sometimes once solid food is allowed, a person swallows a large piece of meat or other food. The food may have difficulty passing through the stoma. In general, over time the food will pass, but there have been cases where a big piece of meat has had to be removed using an endoscope.

So far we have talked about mechanical obstruction leading to nausea, cramping, and vomiting. In addition to obstruction of the stoma, nausea and vomiting can occur with specific foods. Everyone is different. Some people consistently report vomiting with potatoes. Others find certain fruits and vegetables don’t stay down. Still others are primarily troubled by high-fat foods. Some unfortunate people not only get diarrhea (dumping syndrome) with sugary foods, they vomit as well. For many people it is necessary to do some (sometimes painful) experimentation to determine what they can and cannot successfully eat.

I do have afew patients who even up to a year following their surgery still experience vomiting a few times a week. However, for most people, the vomiting does not occur regularly after about six months. Many people have to accept that they can no longer eat certain foods they once loved. Some people develop stomach ulcers or gastritis (irritation of the cells that line the stomach). This occurs in about 2 percent of people who have undergone the Roux-en-Y procedure (it is much more common in people who have undergone gastric banding). Stomach ulcers are generally responsive to medications and rarely require surgical correction.