Gastric Sleeve Side Effects

Image of consultant bariatric surgeon, Mr Rishi Singhal

Medically reviewed by Prof Rishi Singhal MBBS, MRCS, FRCS, MD

What are the side effects of a Gastric Sleeve?

The common side effects of Gastric sleeve surgery involve soreness and fatigue, but complications can include leaks and bleeding. Pre-surgery precautions, like quitting smoking, and post-surgery practices, such as exercise and hydration, can help prevent issues.

Getting used to your gastric sleeve surgery can be very daunting and you might be quite worried about any new sensations or feelings you are experiencing. We’ve listed some common symptoms and problems below.

What to expect

Gastric sleeve surgery (Sleeve gastrectomy) is a minimally-invasive bariatric surgery procedure developed to effectively aid in weight loss. During the laparoscopic procedure, about 80% of the stomach is removed, leaving a much smaller stomach. This drastic reduction in stomach size limits the amount of food that can be consumed, thus reducing both caloric intake and appetite. Additionally, sleeve gastrectomy triggers hormonal changes that help with weight loss as well as similar conditions caused by obesity like high blood pressure and heart disease.

The benefits of this form of bariatric procedure have been well documented over time, partly due to its highly successful track record in producing significant long-term weight loss compared with dieting alone or other lifestyle interventions. Patients typically return home after one day and return to work within 1-2 weeks following the procedure without any restrictions on physical activity. Over time, many patients experience greater health satisfaction due to improved mobility, increased energy levels, and improved quality of life relating to their newfound improved body composition. Due to the swift reduction in weight, conditions linked to obesity, such as diabetes, hypertension, elevated cholesterol levels, arthritis, sleep apnea, and heartburn, frequently improve rapidly.

Following gastric sleeve procedure, there are common side effects that can be attributed to the anaesthesia and the procedure itself. For a few days post-surgery, you can expect to feel sore, drowsy, and confused. The surgical wounds will cause pain, but it can usually be managed with mild painkillers, while also necessitating proper cleaning and keeping them dry during the healing process. Small scars on the abdomen will be present, fading over time. Fatigue is to be expected as you adapt to a new diet, particularly when it is limited to liquids and soft foods in the initial weeks. Digestive issues like indigestion, nausea, and food intolerances, including acid reflux, may occur temporarily. It’s important to be cautious about your diet to avoid nutritional deficiencies.

Gastric Sleeve Side effects

While the majority of patients, around 96%, recover without serious complications, a small number may encounter problems. It is crucial to be aware of potential issues and seek prompt medical attention if necessary.

Less common complications associated with sleeve gastrectomy can include leaks from the stapled closure of the stomach, which may require additional surgery to rectify. In rare cases, there may be bleeding from the staple line, necessitating further intervention to control it. If any difficulties arise during the operation, the surgeon may need to switch to an open procedure, resulting in a larger surgical wound and scar. However, this is only done when medically necessary. In the short term, potential risks involve, infections, adverse reactions to anaesthesia, blood clot formation, and lung or breathing difficulties. In the long term, risks and complications associated with sleeve gastrectomy may include gastrointestinal obstruction, hernias, gastroesophageal reflux, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), malnutrition, and vomiting. It is crucial to be aware of these potential outcomes when considering the procedure.

When to reach out to your Healthcare Provider

following the weight loss surgery your healthcare professional will schedule follow-up appointments to check on your recovery progress. However, you should reach out immediately if:

  • You are having difficulty breathing
  • You have a fever
  • You have chest pain
  • Pain medication is not working effectively
  • You have been throwing up for 12 hours
  • Your legs are swollen or red
  • You are having difficulty urinating

Preventing Gastric Sleeve side effects

To mitigate the potential side effects of gastric sleeve surgery, before surgery, adhering to the following recommendations is advised: Stop smoking for several months before the surgery is recommended to facilitate optimal healing and diminish associated risks. Additionally, discontinuing the use of blood-thinning medications such as aspirin is crucial. Making strides towards weight loss before the operation can also be advantageous. Following the surgery, the adoption of the subsequent practices becomes pivotal: Regular engagement in exercise aids in expediting recovery and acts as a preventative measure against blood clot formation. The continuation of prescribed breathing and coughing exercises, imparted by the healthcare team, holds the potential to curtail the risk of lung infections and promote improved circulation. Adequate hydration maintenance is paramount for alleviating post-operative nausea.

Image of consultant bariatric surgeon, Mr Rishi Singhal

All content on this page is reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team lead by Prof Rishi Singhal.

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