We are investigating a claim on behalf of a lady who underwent bariatric surgery in order to achieve weight reduction. Although the surgery led to weight loss over several years, as hoped, our client had a variety of post-operative problems.
These included uncontrolled weight loss significantly beyond what was desired or deemed healthy, the inability to swallow more than very small amounts of food and frequent episodes of vomiting. She had to return for revision surgery on two occasions. After the second revision operation, our client developed necrosis and required emergency abdominal surgery.
There are several types of bariatric surgery, most of which involve key-hole or laparoscopic techniques. The type of surgery employed by our client’s treating surgeon was a gastric bypass which involves a traditional, open incision into the abdomen. A small pouch is made out of part of the stomach which is attached to the small intestine. The rest of the stomach is sealed off. Food then passes through the stomach pouch and directly into the middle of the small intestine. The alterations, which directly involve gastric nerves that assist with digestion, are generally considered to be permanent. If it is necessary to reverse this type of procedure, the patient may never regain a fully functioning digestive tract.
Whatever type of bariatric surgery is contemplated, the surgeon needs to ensure that patients have properly consented to the procedure. The potential complications must be explained. In the case of gastric bypass surgery, it is particularly important that the patient understands the consequences and the problems they may face in the future, whether or not they go on to achieve permanent weight loss.