Bariatric surgery (or weight loss surgery) is often recommended for seriously obese individuals who are unable to lose weight by traditional means such as diet and exercise. Bariatric surgery alters a person’s digestive system and can help a person to lose weight, to avoid health problems caused by obesity, and to live longer. However, in some cases, bariatric surgery can be deadly.
A 2005 study showed that nearly 40% of bariatric surgery patients experience complications and 1 out of every 50 people undergoing bariatric surgery die within a month of the surgery. This may not sound like a lot, but with an estimated 140,000 people a year undergoing weight loss surgery, this adds up to about 2,800 deaths a year.
This rate is nearly twice that of operations of similar complexity. The biggest factor that contributes to deaths from bariatric surgery is doctor inexperience. The 2005 study also found that patients have a greater chance of complications when the surgeon has performed fewer than 70 to 100 procedures. These patients also have a higher risk of complications than the patients of more experienced doctors.