A woman stands on a weight scale.

People don’t make the decision to have weight loss surgery on a whim. It’s usually after years and years of health struggles and diet failures. They have tried everything to lose weight and have decided on surgery as a last resort. At least, it should be. 

After having gastric bypass surgery, Katie lost 100 pounds within six months. She was so excited she had finally gotten what she wanted. She was on the road to a healthier life. Until shortly after that, she developed chronic nausea and the weight loss didn’t stop. She went back to her doctor who told her she must be pregnant. Katie knew she wasn’t pregnant. 

Not long after, she was back at the hospital and rushed into emergency surgery. She had intussusception, a small bowel obstruction, and a perforated ulcer. One week later she was back for another surgery where the doctor didn’t know what was wrong but was going in anyway. There was a pill stuck in the lining of her “new” stomach but the doctor didn’t tell her this. She found out later while looking through pages and pages of her medical records. 

Katie had a feeding tube put in because she was so small and malnourished. She was back for another surgery a few months later. Then again six months later. Five years later and she has been back for more surgeries, and she is chronically sick. She got gastric bypass because she wanted to be healthy enough to have more children. The complications of the surgery robbed her of this dream. The lasting effects on her quality of life are huge. 

She traded one problem, for another problem. Actually, it looks like she traded it for five worse problems. When you have major surgery, it’s important to stay informed and make sure you’re treated fairly. Keep reading to learn more..

Healthy food and a measuring tape symbolizing the weight loss journey.

Gastric Bypass Lawsuits

Gastric bypass surgery is when the doctor cuts and staples the stomach. The surgeon will also reroute the small intestine. This shortens the path that food takes through the gastrointestinal tract. This way the body absorbs fewer calories from the food that passes through the digestive system. If the body is absorbing fewer calories, it makes you wonder what else it isn’t absorbing…possibly nutrients!

This procedure is very involved and it’s even more complicated to reverse. Compilations are common but when the complications are caused by negligence, you may very well have a gastric bypass lawsuit. Let’s look at some of the ways negligence could be proved. 

Patient Didn’t Meet the Criteria 

This complicated surgery should only be performed if the patient meets all the criteria for obesity. When this operation is suggested when it is not deemed necessary by this criteria, that’s negligence. The advice given to patients must be given with their best interest in mind. It’s also important to have all the options laid out so that you can make the most informed decision possible.

Improper Surgical Technique 

Sometimes surgical techniques can cause a kink or obstruction in the digestive system. This allows nothing to pass through. This could be that the surgeon made the stitches too tight or removed too much of the stomach. Read more about surgical errors here. 

No Proper Evaluation Post-op.

Some surgeons perform many surgeries a day and they see a lot of patients. When patients come back after surgery with a concern, they can easily be brushed off. “Don’t worry, it’ll get better” is what you may hear. When the doctor doesn’t take the patient’s concerns into account they won’t give a proper evaluation. Serious problems aren’t dealt with in a reasonable time when patients are sent home to just wait. Delayed diagnosis can lead to a whole host of other problems. 

With kinking and stitching or other obstructions, the patient needs to get back to surgery quickly. In Katie’s case, her concerns weren’t taken seriously until it was too late to avoid a whole slew of new problems. 

Doctor's example of a lap band.

Lap Band Erosion Lawsuit, Leaks & More

With lap band surgery, the surgeon puts a band around the upper part of the stomach, this creates a “pouch” above the largest part of the stomach. The band is regularly adjusted for tightness so the patient can receive the best results.

With the band tightened the smaller stomach will fill up faster. If the patient doesn’t ignore the feeling of being full, they’ll still eat less.   

Lap bands don’t need any major modifications to the stomach as gastric bypass does. They are easier to remove. Lap bands are growing in popularity due to this advantage. Yet up to half of all these surgeries have complications that bring the patient back in to get it removed. This second operation poses even more risk to the patient. 

Doctors must be informing patients of the risks. The FDA says all marketing ads for medical devices must provide a complete list of potential risks and complications. Physicians have to explain these risks to the patient’s face. Lap band companies will advertise as being the least invasive option. Still, there are a lot of issues that can happen with the band. 

Erosion

The band may grind against the stomach resulting in the erosion of either the wall of the stomach or the band. The band loses the ability to compress the stomach. A new band then requires a whole new surgery. 

Slippage 

Sometimes the band slips out of its designated location and falls under the stomach. The pouch above the band becomes much larger. Patients will realize something is wrong when they have ongoing nausea. They will also notice weight gain. 

Leaks 

Food can leak out of the patient’s stomach when there are flaws in the plastic band. The patient notices something is wrong when the amount of food they eat without feeling full increases over time. 

There have even been instances where a lap band company knowingly sold defective bands to hospitals. Patients have a right to know they’re getting top quality bands when going through with weight loss surgery. This has been a big issue that has led to lap band lawsuits. 

Malnutrition After Weight Loss Surgery 

Malnutrition is one of the biggest long term side effects of weight loss surgery. This develops in months or years after the surgery. 

The patient may notice: 

  • Weakness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Dry skin or brittle hair 
  • Change in fingernail appearance
  • Bleeding gums
  • Changes in the eyes 

Studies have shown that fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, K, and E) are not absorbed well after certain surgeries. 

Two of these problematic bariatric surgeries are:

  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass 
  • Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch 

Over time these deficiencies cause a whole list of other problems. Surgery can also create an iron deficiency. 

Bariatric surgeons need to arrange post-surgical dietary counseling for patients. Malnutrition from a complicated weight loss surgery can be life-threatening. If you think it’s time to get professional advice, here’s a few tips for your first meeting with a lawyer. 

Woman experiences intense stomach pain.

Final Thoughts

When surgery to fix one problem turns into a disaster, you have to make sure you’re treated fairly. If you think your injuries could amount to a gastric bypass lawsuit or a lap band lawsuit, don’t wait to talk to an attorney.  

If you’ve had weight loss surgery that led to injury due to negligence, contact us. You have a right to hold the guilty party responsible for their actions.