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Abstract

Background:

The prevalence of obesity is increasing worldwide and the past decade has witnessed an exponential rise in the number of bariatric operations performed. As a consequence, an increasing number of patients are presenting to non-specialist units with complications following bariatric procedures. This article outlines the management of the most common late postoperative complications that are likely to present to the general surgeon.

Methods:

A search was conducted for late postoperative complications after bariatric surgery using PubMed, Embase, OVID and Google search engines, and combinations of the terms bariatric surgery, gastric bypass, gastric banding or sleeve gastrectomy, and late or delayed complications. Only studies with follow-up longer than 6 months were included.

Results:

The most common long-term complications after gastric banding include band slippage and erosion. Deflation or removal of the band is often required. Internal hernia, adhesions and anastomotic stenosis are common causes of intestinal obstruction after gastric bypass surgery. Hepatobiliary complications pose a particular challenge because of the altered anatomy. Functional disorders such as reflux and dumping, and nutritional deficiencies are common and should be differentiated from conditions that require urgent investigations and timely surgical intervention.

Conclusion:

The immediate management of bariatric patients presenting with complications outside the immediate postoperative period requires adherence to basic surgical principles. Accurate diagnosis often relies on high-quality contrast and cross-sectional imaging, and effective surgical intervention necessitates a broad understanding of the altered anatomy, advanced surgical skills and liaison with specialists in the field when necessary. Copyright © 2011 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.