We pride ourselves on giving patients the maximum possible information upon which to base their decision to proceed with weight loss surgery, or not. Nowhere is this more evident than in the clear, open and frank way we explain the potential complications of surgery (in general) and the sleeve specifically.
The fact is that all providers have patients who experience complications. We are talking about the human body and not an electrical appliance. At Healthier Weight, we work tirelessly to reduce the incidence rate of complications but it can never be zero.
You should be very cautious of providers who understate their complication rates, claim not to have them or who cannot quote complication rates.
We have provided on this page a long list of complications associated with gastric sleeve. It’s a long list but the incidence rates are very low, in some cases below 1 in 10,000.
You can click on each complication to read a fuller description.
Overall the mortality rate for sleeve patients is about 0.24% (1 in 4,000+). The post-operative complication and return to theatre rates are between 4%*. Thee rates are based on internationally published data. It’s a wide range and our rate is at the very bottom end of the range.
*Use and Outcomes of a laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy versus Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass: Analysis of the American College of Surgeons NSQIP. J Am Surg. 2015 May
You can view the scientific references that the complication rates quoted in this section are drawn from in the ‘scientific references’ section at the foot of this page.
What influences the complication rate? There are several
influence your complication rate, some that you are in control of. Here is a short list of the main factors:
- The experience and expertise of your surgeon
- Your compliance with the pre and post-operative diet guidelines including in relation to alcohol
- Not smoking – this is very important for sleeve
- Longer term, attending for blood tests
- Following our guidance on post-op wound care to reduce the risk of infection
- Looking out for any symptoms and calling us immediately you suspect any, especially in the first 14 days after surgery.
- The support of a multi-disciplined team of weight loss specialists to meet your needs as and when they arise (surgeons, doctors, psychologists, nurses and dietitians)
Gastro-oesophageal Reflux Disease (GORD), commonly described as heartburn, is common after gastric sleeve surgery.
If you have reflux disease we are very unlikely to accept you for sleeve surgery. The band or bypass would be the better option for these patients.
Reflux can present as heartburn, pain on swallowing, soreness in the oesophagus/back of the throat and can be worse at night. It is a side effect of the gastric sleeve because the new sleeve stomach is smaller and under higher pressure than the old stomach. It’s the pressure that can force stomach contents upwards.
It can usually be treated effectively through PPI medication. In fact, all sleeve are prescribed PPI (often Omeprazole) for a 3 month period postoperatively.
Read more about reflux after sleeve surgery
Treatment of complications
If you experience a complication with your gastric sleeve after you have been discharged from the hospital, it is likely that you will need treatment in an NHS hospital. Most late presenting complications (after discharge) will be a leak from the staple line or a stricture. We consider that these can only safely be treated in an NHS environment where the multi-disciplinary medical support and intensity of support can be provided.
We have drawn the complication rates quoted above from respected medical and scientific journals and publications. You can view these in our ‘gastric sleeve – scientific references’ section.