Gastric bypass surgery complications could leave you in a wheel chair

Donald Saiontz

By Donald Saiontz
Posted June 3, 2007


According to a new study, gastric bypass surgery complications could cause permanent neurological damage.  Symptoms could include hallucinations, severe weakness or possible paralyzation, resulting in the need for a wheelchair.  The problems could begin months or even years after the gatric bypass surgery, and lead to a life-long  disability.

Gastric bypass surgery is a drastic procedure which is used to help some obese people lose weight.  A study appearing in the current issue of the medical journal Neurology highlights a risk that most doctors have not warned their patients about, which is most likely caused by deficiencies in certain nutrients after the surgery.

Researchers from the University of Arkansas for Medical Science in Little Rock report that certain nutrients could become depleted during the months or years after gastric bypass surgery.  This could result in severe neurological problems.  Early signs could include hallucinating and losing the ability to walk.  Some are left permanently disabled with spinal cord damage, which can result in falls, coordination problems, severe spasticity, or the need for a wheelchair.

Researchers are recommending that patients who undergo gastric bypass take steps to reduce the risk of complications by taking vitamin and mineral supplements and avoiding rapid weight loss.  Once symptoms appear, restoring nutritional deficiencies may help reduce symptoms, but for some the problems are irreversible.


In recent years, there have been several gastric bypass surgery lawsuits filed as a result of patients who died from complications during surgery or inexperienced doctors performing the procedure.  In January 2005, a study by researchers at the University of Washington found that nearly one out of every 50 people who undergo gatric bypass surgery die within one month.  The risk of death could be increased nearly five times in cases where the surgeon is inexperienced performing the procedure.  There has also been a risk of a leak following gastric bypass surgery, which could also be fatal.

The new study regarding neurological damage suffered as a result of depleted nutrients may result in future lawsuits since individuals have not been warned of these problems, and most patients are not told to take simple steps which could reduce the risk of injury, including use of vitamin supplements or follow up with medical nutritionists.

If you, a friend or family have suffered a severe injury or death as a result of gastric bypass surgery, request a free legal consultation to review the legal options which may be available.

11 Comments • Add Your Comments

  • grace velez says:

    I suffer from Neurological damage due to gastric bypass surgery. I was never informed in any way of this side effect. Now I’m on disability due to my diminished neuro capacity.

    Posted on February 5, 2008 at 4:18 pm

  • Veronica says:

    After a couple of months from my surgery I noticed some numbness in my legs. One day I woke up and was so weak I could not stand. After a week of testing for M/S nothing was found. I was confined to a wheelchair and had to learn to walk again. From the months and months of gruesome physical therapy I am almost 100% again. I suffered from vitamin loss which made me have nerve damage in my right foot. It is not a easy thing to have to go through but it could have been prevented. No one ever informed me that this happened.

    Posted on July 21, 2008 at 7:48 pm

  • Casey says:

    For several years I’ve had increasing problems that medicos have attributed to laziness or whatever.
    I developed hyperacusis after a horrible loud sound came over the phone at work. None of my co-workers were seriously injured but I got nerve damage.
    My legs, hands, arms, knees, back etc are seriously affected and this is complicated by numerous lifetime injuries from several auto accidents which were not, in themselves, enough to prevent me from being able to work.
    SS Disability continues to turn me down as I cannot pay for neurological testing.
    How many are in my situation? Oh, after 20 years I’m gaining and gaining, I guess due to my lessening ability to move around. All this and fat too?
    We weren’t told enough. At least I’ve never gotten to be a diabetic.

    Posted on November 10, 2008 at 9:50 pm

  • AL says:

    Back in April of 2006 I had gastric bypass. For the last year or so, I have been feeling weak, confused, severe headaches, numbness on my arms and legs, back and shoulder pains, just to name some of the things I have been going through. My doctor has done some test on me and so far diagnosis show I have severe anemia. My doctor is not sure of what is going on with me. I have been trying to get him to refer me to a Neurologist. On top of all this I am on medecation for major depression disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and poor sleep disorder. On september I had to stop working, because I just could not work under these conditions. I applyed for disability and I hope once I get my medical card I will be able to see a Neurologist.

    Posted on November 21, 2008 at 1:45 am

  • Julie says:

    Ever since my gastric bypass I have have many major complications. It’s taken a long time but it was recently discovered that my Rouen-Y was routed completely backwards. The medical complications, some which are irreversible, are numerous.

    Posted on February 17, 2012 at 1:57 pm

  • Sammi says:

    Severe anemia misdiagnosed as transient, followed by constant dizziness, depression anxiety, disc degeneration in spine, insomnia, weakness, inability to focus, several blood transfusions due to hemoglobin dropping to 7, and worst at 5, Ferritin of less than zero (zero is DEAD!) constantly vitamin D deficiency & I require iv iron infusions for the rest of my life. Between the nutritional deficits & the side affects that they cause, I function about 1/2 as well as I did before surgery in 2002. The seminar prior to surgery breezed through possible complications & blew them off as 5%. Well, it happens & my life is screwed up bc of if. Don’t get gastric bypass. RUN in opposite direction!

    Posted on November 26, 2012 at 10:03 pm

  • Michelle says:

    I have had so many problems trying to get information on things to help me live a better life. After reading just a few posts I became increasingly agitated. From the lack of histories before surgery to the incomplete care that Is received post op, these stories hit all to close to home! To call my existence “living” is just plain, well there are no words to describe how just how off that term is! From research to following Doctors orders, none of it works as well as it should! There is always something that is missed. While I feel hopeless and angry, it has never been like me to give up. I just hope that what I have been left with will be enough to find my way and regain some of what I used to be.

    Posted on September 17, 2013 at 7:26 am

  • Zhanna says:

    This surgery made me disable. i have to take Iv treatment of iron for lifetime. Severe anemia make me fstige. Severe maiabsorbtion does not absorb my medicine like blood pressure medicine and hypothyroidism. i csnt walk because Ihave very strong pain in my body. Also I start getting ulcers in my body causing malabsorption syndrome. i am very depressed because of that problem. i am taking vitamins but it is not absorbing just like food.

    Posted on July 15, 2014 at 3:31 pm

  • PATSY says:

    I am just starting to have complications from gastric by pass surgery. I can see now that this have slowly been happening and other diagnosis have been even the recent of COPD – I am doing less and less exercing because i get exhausted and started putting weight back. now i got diagnosed with severe iron deficiency amenia due to the gastric by pass surgery after 12 years. i am going to need iron infusions every three months and still awaiting results of biopsy – i wish i had known as the center where i had it done will no longer see me because the doctor that did the operation is no longer at their facility and the current doctor will not see old patients.

    Posted on July 31, 2015 at 4:42 pm

  • Brenda says:

    I had gastric bypass in 2011, now I am having problems, I have been reading that it could effect your nervous system.

    Posted on August 19, 2017 at 5:11 pm

  • LaSondra says:

    Recently underwent Gastric bypass surgery. Although they went over what could possibly happen it is quickly downplayed as a rarity and nothing to be truly concerned about. Enough people have issues that this surgery may need to be recognized as a medical danger. It took several ER trips and me becoming unable to walk (my ankles flipped in where the soles of my feet were facing one another). Months of vomiting everything up, running back and forth to ER being treated for dehydration before I was finally diagnosed with a severe dondelum ulcer. By the time diagnosed it was too late. Suffer from thinking issues, neuropathy, high heart rate, painful sex, increased depression…my life has been drastically altered, I was at least happier fat. Now I just pray God will continue to help me heal.

    Posted on February 20, 2020 at 1:41 am

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