Bariatric Surgery Risks

Meet Dr. Joshua Long:
Our Bariatric Surgeon

A nationally renowned and double-board-certified Denver bariatric surgeon, Dr. Long uses a partnership care model with each patient to tailor care to their individual needs. Patients routinely thank Dr. Long for his warm, compassionate bedside manner. He’s considered to be at the top of his field, having performed over 1,000 bariatric surgeries. Peers praise his technical skill, and he has some of the lowest complication rates among bariatric surgeons in the nation. Dr. Long and the staff at the Bariatric and Metabolic Center of Colorado consider it an honor to serve every patient with the highest quality of care.

Dr. Joshua Long headshot

Dr. Joshua Long

MD, MBA, FACS, FASMBS

Many people want to lose weight and keep it off but avoid bariatric surgery because they’re worried about the risks. It’s perfectly natural to be concerned about the risks of surgery: in fact, you should be looking at the possible downsides of any major surgery or life decision. Some surgeries, like the LAP-BAND®, are no longer good long-term decisions, and it’s important to look at the risks so that you can make the best choice.

However, when it comes to bariatric surgery in the current era, most fears are unfounded. Modern bariatric surgery risks at an accredited MBSAQIP center are minimal. At the BMCC, we work hard to keep weight loss surgery risks below the national average, and thanks to our dedicated team, our patients have very few complications.

Bariatric Surgery Risks In the Past

Twenty or thirty years ago, this kind of surgery could be a risky procedure. The science was still developing, and early patients showed impressive results but also some negative side effects. For instance, a study from 1993 indicated that 16% of patients experienced severe enough complications to need revisional surgery. At that time, 1.6% of patients died from complications relating to surgery.

However, in the last several years this kind of surgery has become much safer. Older, riskier, historic procedures like the jejunoileal bypass (and now the LAP-BAND®) have been replaced with newer, safer procedures like the sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, and the SADI-S duodenal switch. Also, historically successful operations like the gastric bypass were refined to dramatically improve the safety profile. By 2012, the 30-day complication rate from three common bariatric surgeries was around 1%.

Also, the accredited bariatric surgery centers now have a death rate of less than 0.01%. This means that in our current era, weight loss surgery is no more dangerous than the most minor out-patient surgeries such as gallbladder surgery.

Bariatric Surgery in the BMCC

Weight loss surgery can still carry risk. That is the reason that at the BMCC your safety is always our first priority and we use very careful surgical technique. We’ve also built an award-winning team and have developed very comprehensive perioperative protocols to make your surgery safe. Our dedicated surgeon, Dr. Joshua Long, is nationally recognized as a leader in quality of care as an MBSAQIP Site reviewer. He personally commits to not leaving the operating room until every surgery is performed as well as humanly possible.

We also use excellent equipment and pioneer the latest surgical techniques. One service we offer is the TAP-Block, which reduces patients’ pain so much that they often don’t need any additional painkillers. We also recently helped pioneer the SADI-S (loop duodenal switch), an even safer version of the traditional duodenal switch.

The BMCC is recognized as a comprehensive MBSAQIP center by the MBSAQIP, ASMBS and ACS. In fact, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and MBSAQIP have recommended some of our methods across the nation as best practices for other weight loss surgery centers. The BMCC serves as a model for excellent and safe bariatric surgery.

Because of this, our patients routinely experience excellent outcomes. We have very low complication mortality rates. We routinely rank in the top 1% of bariatric surgery practices in Colorado, in part due to our patient-centered focus. At the BMCC, bariatric surgery is no more risky than any minor outpatient procedure, such as gallbladder surgery. Because of our very favorable surgical risk profile, at the BMCC your health risk without surgery is actually much greater than your very minimal risk of surgery. Our patients routinely do very well, and remember that we are with you every step of the way on your journey to health.

Weight Loss Surgery Pros and Cons

Weight loss surgery is not 100% risk-free: there are risks of complications that can occur. At the BMCC we work hard to minimize them.

But there are also dangers to not losing weight. People suffering from obesity have more than 50% increased risk of premature death compared to people of a healthy weight. They often experience more health concerns, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. In the long run, obesity is much more dangerous than surgery. Bariatric surgery has actually be shown to reduce the risk of dying an early death by 89% within the first 5 years alone.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the reasons to consider weight loss surgery:

In summary, while weight loss surgery risks are theoretically present, they’re very small compared to the risk of obesity.

If you or a loved one have further questions or would like more information about bariatric surgery or other surgical or non-surgical weight loss, please click the button below and schedule an appointment with our friendly staff.

Dr. Joshua Long headshot

This page was medically reviewed by Dr. Joshua Long, MD, MBA, FACS, FASMBS. Dr. Long is a double-board-certified bariatric surgeon and bariatric medical director for Parker Adventist Hospital.
Full Bio: Dr. Joshua Long, MD, MBA, FACS, FASMBS
Page Updated: January 19th, 2020

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