Gastric Sleeve Surgery Complications

Gastric SleeveEven though surgery is planned and well-intentioned, the basic fact is that someone is cutting through your skin and fiddling with your insides. There are risks associated with every surgical procedure, and gastric sleeve surgery is no exception. While your doctor will ask about your health, medical history, symptoms, carry out a physical exam and try to give you an idea of what to expect afterward, sometimes, there are bound to be complications: some that are not too serious but others such as blood clots can become fatal to a point where they slow down your recovery. This is why it is important to pay close attention to how your body feels before and after any surgery and if you’re concerned or something simply seems “off,” see your doctor.

Some level of pain or discomfort after a gastric sleeve surgery is to be expected but the risk for complications is reduced, and the recovery is faster in comparison to other surgical procedures to address obesity because this process does not interfere with the digestive system functioning. This is not to say that there aren’t any complications experienced by some patients. The most common being:


This is the most common complication after gastric sleeve and usually, follows within the first 24 hours of the surgery. It occurs along the staple line closure where the stomach has been divided where significant bleeding could lead to blood transfusion or extended hospitalization. Patients will experience shortness of breath, dizziness, appear pale, heart palpitations, and minimal urine production – all symptoms of blood loss.

Staple line leaks

This is one of the most dreaded snags in gastric sleeve surgery, which is basically an internal leak or opening that can occur along any of the staple lines of a gastric bypass. If left untreated, fluid from within the bowel or stomach that contain bacteria begin to leak into the abdomen, and the result is a serious infection along with swelling, tachycardia, fevers, and sometimes a formation of an abscess. In most cases, an immediate operation is required to seal the leak and drain away the infection, or an interventional radiologist can perform the drainage without the need for surgery in order to keep the infection from spreading into the rest of the abdomen.

Stenoses/ Strictures

About 0.6% of gastric sleeve patients will experience strictures. This is the narrowing of the tube or canal of the abdominal passage after 3-4 weeks of a gastric sleeve surgery to lose weight. The new connection between the stomach pouch and the small intestine may narrow due to scarring, insufficient blood flow to the area, sores caused by smoking, taking anti-inflammatory drugs too often or using staples rather than stitches. The doctor can use an endoscopic dilator to inflate the opening and stretch it back to its original size, if possible.

Stomach obstruction

This blockage leads to both throwing up and moderate stomach pain. It can be corrected with conventional rehabilitation or surgery to disentangle the stomach.

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