The truth is yes, the higher your BMI, the higher your surgical risk. In fact, it is a greater weight that increases risk, but of course greater weight usually goes hand in hand with a higher BMI (unless you are very tall).
The higher risk stems from two main factors:
- The heavier you are the more difficult the surgery is from a practical perspective. The amount of fat in the abdomen could be greater than normal and the liver may be bigger, for example. These factors can extend operating time which increases risk.
- The greater your weight the greater the risk that you have an undiagnosed weight related co-morbidity. It could be that you have undiagnosed sleep apnoea or Type 2 diabetes and these would increase the risk of a complication during surgery.
Despite there being a greater risk with a higher BMI, we have to keep a sense of perspective. Bariatric surgery is one of the safest forms of surgery today with very low mortality rates across the country. We measure mortality within 30 days as standard and no deaths have been reported within this period according to the data available.
To ensure a safe and successful surgical outcome, patients benefit from a thorough pre-operative assessment process and are reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team before their eligibility is confirmed.
When viewed alongside the risk to your health and life expectancy, the risk of surgery for the vast majority of patients is very small indeed.