All surgeries have risks and the potential for complications. Duodenal switch surgery is one of the most complicated bariatric procedures though it offers some of the most effective weight loss results among bariatric surgery options. Very few surgeons perform Duodenal Switch due to the highly complex nature of the procedure.
Complication rates linked with the duodenal switch procedure increase with a higher body mass index (BMI). This is the case with any bariatric surgery, however.
Some of the most common risks and complications associated with duodenal switch surgery include:
- Bleeding/blood loss
- Blood clots such as pulmonary emboli that are clots that travel to the lungs or deep vein thrombosis that are blood clots that most commonly originate in the veins of the legs
- Infection of the surgical site. This complication can be significantly reduced by keeping dressings to these sites clean and dry and by carefully following post-operative directions.
- Bowel Obstruction. This occurs when either your small or large intestine becomes blocked. It is a serious condition that requires immediate medical intervention.
- Pneumonia is a possible complication of surgeries that result in significantly reduced mobility. Most bariatric surgeons encourage movement and exercise shortly following duodenal switch procedures to minimize the likelihood of this risk factor.
- Leakage from the stomach or the bowel as a result of a perforation
- Death. The statistics related to this bariatric procedure are similar to those of other bariatric surgeries.
- Difficulty consuming liquids postoperatively as a result of swelling in areas surrounding the stomach or small bowel
- Nutritional deficiencies. The nature of this procedure places patients at a high risk for deficiencies in vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, iron, calcium and protein. Vitamins and supplements following the surgery are crucial for duodenal switch patients
The risks of duodenal switch surgery need to be balanced against the significant risks associated with living with severe obesity without surgical intervention. Many patients see considerable improvements in symptoms related to conditions linked to obesity such as diabetes and hypertension. Duodenal switch patients can see substantial improvements in overall health when they can substantially reduce their weight.
It’s a good idea to ask a bariatric surgeon how many duodenal switch procedures they have performed. A competent doctor will also be able to discuss with patients a personalized profile of complications the patient is most at risk for based on individual health history. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about concerns related to possible complications. Answers to these questions will give patients the confidence to move forward in pursuing this life-changing weight loss option or persuade them to choose another alternative they are more comfortable pursuing.